Housing advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Many people are worried about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how this could affect their housing. Use the information below to help work out what COVID-19 means for you.

Guidance and advice is changing quickly. Check back regularly for updates.

See Gov.Wales for the current Welsh Government advice.

See Public Health Wales for up to date health advice.

Worried about paying your rent?

If your income is affected by COVID-19 and you are worried about paying your rent, tell your landlord or agent straight away

They might be sympathetic to your situation and might agree to :

  • a rent ‘holiday’
  • a reduction in your rent for a temporary period
  • agree to pay any arrears that build up at a later date at an affordable rate
  • not to take any action to evict you for a certain period.

Get any agreement in writing. To read our full advice about dealing with rent arrears, please see here.

If your landlord has a ‘buy-to-let’ mortgage on the property they may be given a ‘payment holiday’ by their lender (you can find out more about this here).

If you are getting housing benefit or universal credit housing costs, you should report any changes to your income to the housing benefit department or the DWP through your online UC journal. Your benefit will usually increase if you report an income drop promptly.

Read our advice on reporting changes in circumstances. The advice includes a link to a sample letter you can use.

If you are struggling to pay your rent you can apply for a discretionary housing payment if you get either:

  • housing benefit
  • universal credit housing costs.

Worried about paying your mortgage?

If your income is affected by COVID-19 and you are worried about paying your mortgage, speak to your lender as soon as possible. Many lenders have announced help for borrowers who are facing a drop in income. These may include :

  • allowing  a 3 month payment holiday
  • not adding fees for late payments
  • switching to a lower interest rate
  • not applying to court to repossess borrowers.

Speak to your lender to find out what support they’re offering. For more information on applying for a 3 month payment holiday, see the Money Advice Service guide.

Check if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments instead. For example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account.

Read our advice on how to deal with mortgage arrears.

Benefits

You could qualify for benefits or statutory sick pay if :

  • you lose your job
  • you can’t work because you’re sick or self isolating
  • your pay goes down because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

See Citizens Advice for more information on:

  • statutory sick pay
  • benefits if you’re self employed.

Find out more about what you can claim on the entitledto website.

If you are working age and now on a low income you might be able to apply for universal credit. Universal credit can include a claim for help with your housing costs, including rent payments. You can usually get a universal credit advance within a few days if you can’t wait 5 weeks for your first payment.

Most claims for universal credit are made online. Click here for more details about how to apply.

Don’t delay in making your claim. You currently do not have to attend a Jobcentre to make a claim. If you are vulnerable, homeless or need emergency help phone your local Jobcentre Plus. To find their contact details, click here.

For more advice on what to do if you are already claiming benefits or how to claim benefits, click here.

Follow @DWP on Twitter for up to date information.

Can I get help paying my other bills?

Speak to your energy supplier if you’re struggling financially or in arrears with gas or electricity bills. You could get support including:

  • reduced bills or debt repayments
  • a temporary break in your bills or debt arrangements.

If you have a pre payment meter they may be able to, for example:

  • arrange for someone else to top up your meter
  • add credit to your account automatically
  • send you a pre loaded top up card.
    You may need to leave your meter box unlocked if you need someone else to top it up.

Disconnections of pre payment meters are suspended.

Contact your local food bank if you need help with food. If you regularly use a food bank, contact them if possible to check if there are any changes to their service.

You can search for your local food bank and find out about support available during the coronavirus outbreak on the Trussell Trust website.

If you are worried about getting in to debt during this time Shelter Cymru provides free, independent, confidential, specialist debt advice across Wales. Click here for more details.

Can my landlord evict me because of coronavirus?

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without following the proper steps. It does not matter if your landlord wants to evict you because of COVID-19 – they must still follow the same steps.

It is likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:

  • makes you leave without notice or a court order
  • locks you out of your home.

If your landlord tries to evict you, seek advice urgently .See our advice pages on harassment and illegal eviction and contact your local council, Rent Smart Wales or the police if you think you have been illegally evicted because of COVID-19.

I have had an eviction notice from my landlord - what should I do?

The government has brought in an emergency law which means most tenants who get an eviction notice between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 will be entitled to 3 months’ notice before their landlord can apply to court.

This includes:

If you have received a notice from your landlord you should stay in your home.

Evictions take time and you don’t have to leave at the end of your notice under current law.

You should still pay your rent during the period of the notice. If you are having problems paying your rent, see our advice above.

My landlord has already started proceedings to evict me - will these continue?

All court proceedings for eviction have been suspended for 90 days from 27 March 2020.

That means your landlord can’t apply to court for an order to evict you.

If they have already applied to court then your case will be put off until after the 90 days.

The court will tell you when any new hearing is but this may take some time. If you are worried, ring your court to find out what has happened with your case.

You should still pay your rent while you are waiting for a court hearing. If you are struggling to pay, see our advice above.

For more advice, see our pages on eviction : court action.

Keeping safe when you are staying at home

The current advice is that everyone should stay at home, except for some very limited circumstances.

If staying at home puts you or your family at risk of abuse from someone else in the household, you can still get help.

Call the Live Fear Free helpline on 0808 80 10 800 (free and confidential) or visit Welsh Women’s Aid advice page on Safety and Self-Care Advice for Survivors in Isolation.

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. Police will still come to your home.

If you feel it is not safe to stay at home but you have nowhere to go, get help from your local council’s homelessness department. Visit our advice pages on domestic abuse for more information.

How can I self-isolate if I am living in shared accommodation / hostels etc?

If you are living in shared accommodation, including a hostel or nightshelter, and are unwell, or have been advised to self-isolate, it is essential that you minimise visiting shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas as much as possible.

If possible, ask for a suitable alternative self-contained space until you are fully recovered. This could be in the same building.

For tips on what steps you can take to keep safe, click here.

Landlord access to your home

Your landlord or agent should agree to postpone non essential visits to your home such as:

  • routine tenancy inspections
  • viewings towards the end of your tenancy.

Tell your agent you can’t allow access because of the government coronavirus guidance.

Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak. You should report repairs by phone, email or online.

They might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but shouldn’t delay repairs unreasonably.

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement. Your landlord should rearrange a gas safety check if it is booked in for the next 3 weeks. Further guidance is expected from the Gas Safe Register.

Read about access to your rented home for repairs here.

Rough sleepers

The Welsh Government is making money available to local councils in Wales to help them to take urgent action to protect anyone who is rough sleeping or staying in a hostel or other emergency, temporary accommodation during the outbreak.

Some of the actions include:

  • providing accommodation for those with symptoms of COVID-19 which allow that person to self-isolate, ie: a single room with en-suite facilities
  • providing support, clean accommodation, food and access to suitable hygiene facilities for those without symptoms.

This page will be updated as further details are announced.

I live on a caravan park - do I have to leave?

Holiday parks and caravan sites are being closed because of the pandemic.

If you are staying at a park or site you can be asked to leave by the site owner. This applies to all holiday makers and temporary or seasonal residents. The only exceptions are where :

  • you  live in the caravan as your permanent residence
  • you live in the caravan as part of your employment on the park or site.

If you do not fall within those exceptions, you can legally be asked to leave and if you have another home to go to, you must leave as soon as you can.

If you have a convincing reason why you cannot leave, for example :

  • you would be homeless
  • you do not have any way of travelling home
  • you are disabled or vulnerable and cannot leave

then the site owner should not force you to leave.

Where can I get more help?

Visit our Get Advice page, call our free helpline or use our webchat.

The Welsh Government has produced Covid-19 Guidance for tenants in the private rented sector.

The Senedd Research coronavirus page has lots of help and information for people living in Wales, including information on Health and Social Care and Education. It also has information and contact details for every council in Wales.

We’re currently taking a high number of calls from people who are worried about losing their jobs, their homes, and keeping their families safe during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Please give £10 today and help us to continue to support as many people as we can during this difficult time.

Text HOME to 70480* to give £10 or click here to make a single or regular donation.

Thank you.

This page was last updated on: March 31, 2020