COVID-19: Information for tenants
The Coronavirus pandemic we are currently experiencing is an incredibly unprecedented and scary time for everyone - it has affected the lives of nearly everyone across the world in one way or another, leaving many people worried as to what the future will hold.
We have been inundated with questions and concerns from tenants and landlords as to the help we - and the Government - are able to offer in regards to rental payments, and so will use our latest blog to provide as much information as we can.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, has said "A comprehensive package of measures has been put in place to support incomes, including increasing the Local Housing Allowance and the Universal Credit standard allowance to support tenants to continue paying their rent. This should be accessed as much as possible before any talk of deferring rent payments. The Government has been clear. The buy-to-let mortgage holiday is not a green light to all tenants not to pay their rent".
Many tenants are unaware of the help available to them. Whether you are employed, self-employed or unemployed, there is something for everyone:
If you are employed
If you are employed and working your normal hours either at your usual workplace or from home, your wage should be unaffected.
However in some cases, employers are able to keep those on the payroll who are unable to operate or have no work due to the coronavirus; this is known as being ‘on furlough’. It was announced that 80% of salaries will be covered by the Government for those on furlough. As this is something your employer will organise directly with the Government, you will need to speak to your employer about this. Some companies are even offering to top up the additional 20% to their workers, but this would be at your employer’s discretion.
Every employer in the UK is entitled to the 80% basic payment and so if you are still working your normal hours, the Government have said there should be no reason that they won’t pay you 80% of your salary. For those whose employers either refuses to pay this or claims that they can’t, The Citizen’s Advice Bureau are offering a lot of advice and help on how to claim this.
Helpful links for employed tenants:
If you are self-employed
On March 26th, the Government announced that self-employed workers or partnerships that have suffered a loss of income due to the coronavirus will be able to apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the past three years (capped at £2,500 per month). If you pay yourself a salary and dividends through your own company, you won’t be covered by the scheme but you can apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you operate through PAYE; more information about this can be found at the second link below.
Self-employed people are not entitled to statutory sick pay, and so if you are/have been sick and advised to self-isolate, you are able to claim employment and support allowance (ESA). More information about this is on the third link below:
Helpful links for self-employed tenants:
Claiming Universal Credit
Between 16/03/2020 and 30/03/2020, there were 950,000 successful claims for Universal Credit; a time frame that would normally see an average of 100,00 claims.
The Government has advised that “Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit”. Information on how to claim can be found at the below links.
Helpful links for information on Universal Credit:
You will find information on claiming benefits whether you are employed, self-employed or unemployed at the above links. If you have any further questions in regards to claiming Universal Credit, you must contact your local council direct as they hold all information including if you are eligible, and how to claim if so.
Am I eligable for the rent holiday?
The Government has now ruled out introducing rent holidays during the coronavirus pandemic.
Responding on the Government’s behalf in the House of Lords, Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist, appeared to rule this out:
“Emergency legislation has been taken forward as an urgent priority so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. As a result of these measures, no renters in private or social accommodation need to be concerned about the threat of eviction. As such, the Government does not believe a ‘rent holiday’ is necessary at this stage.”
More information regarding this can be found at https://propertyindustryeye.com/government-rules-out-rent-breaks-for-tenants/
Using your deposit for rent
This is a question many tenants have put forward to us. Unfortunately, we are unable to begin to end-of-tenancy process with the Deposit Protection Scheme until your tenancy has come to a complete end and you have vacated the property, and so your deposit cannot be used to cover your rent during this time.
Other help you can get
The Citizen's Advice Bureau has confirmed that they will publish new advice to help you understand any changes when they’re announced. Advice they are offering so far includes:
- Getting essential items and care if you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’
- Paying bills, including your rent
- Getting paid if you can’t work because of coronavirus
- Getting an online isolation note if you need to prove you’re sick
- Taking your children to school if you’re a key worker, for example if you work in the NHS, the police or do food deliveries
- Postponing or cancelling travel arrangements
More information regarding this can be found at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/
Please remember, your rent should always be your top priority when it comes to your property outgoings. Are there other bills you can cut back on - television packages, broadband options, memberships and subscriptions?
We must stress that we are an impartial company and as such, any advice provided is that clearly stated and set out by the Government already.
Other sources and helpful links: