Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Housing advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Aged 16-25?  Visit our dedicated page Coronavirus : advice for young people

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.

Get any agreement in writing. To read our full advice about dealing with rent arrears, click 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 currently having money taken directly out of your benefit to repay rent arrears, this may stop for a temporary period during the pandemic. Check with the DWP or your landlord and try to agree a different way to pay the arrears off. You might be in breach of a court order and risk being evicted if the payments are not made.

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.

Your landlord can still try and increase your rent during the coronavirus outbreak but they must use the right procedure to do so.

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.

Mortgage lenders are currently allowing borrowers to apply for a 3 month payment holiday. Be aware that this option may mean your monthly mortgage payment goes up after the payment holiday ends. For more information on how to apply, see the Money Advice Service guide.

Many lenders have also announced extra help for borrowers including :

  • not adding fees for late payments
  • switching to a lower interest rate.

Click here to find out what support your lender is giving.

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

All current court action for repossession is suspended for 90 days from 27 March 2020 and no new possession claims will be issued for 90 days from 19 March 2020.

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?

If you are struggling financially because of the Coronavirus you might be able to get help with your bills.

Click here to see if you can get help paying your council tax.

Speak to your energy supplier if you are worried about your gas or electricity bills. You could get support including:

  • reduced bills or debt repayments
  • a temporary break in your bills or debt arrangements
  • a change to your bill payment plan.

If you have a pre payment meter and you are worried about how you are going to top it up, your supplier may be able to :

  • arrange for someone else to top up it up
  • add credit to your account automatically
  • send you a pre loaded top up card.

If you are struggling to pay your energy and water bills you can get more advice and help from National Energy Action (NEA) who run a Warm and Safe Homes advice service.

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. Find out more 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 are 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 or mortgage lender has already started proceedings to evict me - will these continue?

All court proceedings for eviction are on hold until at least the 25 June 2020, regardless of when your landlord or mortgage lender applied to court.

This means you can’t be evicted before the end of June 2020 at the earliest and you should stay in your home.

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 or mortgage while you are waiting for a court hearing. If you are struggling to pay, see our advice above.

For more information on eviction if you are a tenant, see our pages on eviction : court action.

For more information on eviction if you have a mortgage, see our pages on mortgage repossession.

Keeping safe when you are staying at home

The current advice in Wales 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.

Men can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010327 and The Dyn Project in Wales.

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. Police will still come to your home. If you cannot safely talk out loud or make noise you can use The Silent Solution system.

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 share your accommodation with others, for example, you rent a shared house, are staying in a hostel, or are sofa-surfing, you must tell those you live with if you:

  • feel unwell and think you may have coronavirus
  • have been advised to self-isolate.

Try to avoid 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 other steps you can take to keep safe, click here.

For up to date Welsh Government guidance on self-isolating, 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 few weeks. Further guidance for tenants and landlords about their responsibilities during the pandemic is available on the Gas Safe Register website.

Read about access to your rented home for repairs here.

Leaving your tenancy early

If you want to leave your tenancy early because of coronavirus, you must make sure you end your tenancy correctly. You will still be responsible for paying your rent if you don’t.

You can only end a fixed term tenancy early if your tenancy agreement has a break clause or you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord.

Contact your landlord as soon as you can and explain your situation. They may be sympathetic to your request to leave if they understand your reasons.

If you need to collect your belongings from a tenancy that you have already moved out of, take a look at this Welsh Government guidance first.

Find out more about leaving a tenancy early here.

Rough sleeping, in temporary accommodation or sofa surfing?

Many local councils in Wales are working to provide accommodation and support during the coronavirus pandemic to people who are sleeping rough.

If you do not have anywhere to live you should contact your local council or your support worker as soon as you can. Find contact details for your local council here.

The council should help you make a homelessness application and, if you are sleeping rough, or at risk of finding yourself on the street, the council should decide that you are in priority need and give you emergency accommodation. This is because coronavirus can spread very easily and if you are sleeping on the streets it is very difficult for you to keep to the government health advice for hygiene, self-isolation and social distancing.

The Welsh Government currently expects councils to do all that they can to help you if you are at risk of sleeping rough, for example because you are :

  • due to leave prison or hospital but have no where safe to go
  • sofa surfing
  • living in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

If you are in this situation and the council decides you are not in priority need or says it cannot help you get advice straight away.

For more information about what the council can do to help you, click here.

You can also look at the Welsh Government information leaflet for rough sleepers.

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.

Read the Welsh Government guidance :

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.

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This page was last updated on: May 27, 2020