Housing advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)
Aged 16-25? Visit our dedicated page Coronavirus : advice for young people
Many people are worried about coronavirus and how it could affect their housing. Click on the topics below to help work out what it means for you.
Guidance and advice is changing quickly. Check back regularly for updates.
See Public Health Wales for up to date health advice.
Worried about paying your rent?
If your income has dropped and you are worried about paying rent, tell your landlord or agent straight away. They might be sympathetic and agree to late rent or a rent reduction for a temporary period.
We have set out below some sample wording you could use to send to your landlord or agent in a letter, email or text. Make sure any agreement you make is in writing.
If you are struggling to pay your rent there might be some financial help available. This could include :
If you rent your home from a private landlord and :
- are in rent arrears because of coronavirus
- not already receiving housing benefit or universal credit housing costs
you might be able to apply for a Tenancy Saver Loan. The loan will be paid direct to your landlord and will have to be paid back within 5 years. Find out more about the scheme here and to make an application, click here.
Remember to 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.
Your landlord can still try and increase your rent during the coronavirus outbreak but they must use the right procedure to do so.
Some landlords can apply for a break in mortgage payments if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus, but this won’t always be possible.
To read our full advice about dealing with rent arrears, click here.
Negotiating a reduction in your rent because of coronavirus
If you are having problems paying your rent because of coronavirus, you must tell your landlord as soon as you can.
You might be able to come to an agreement or negotiate a reduction in your rent.
Use the sample text below to help you put together an email or text.
Click anywhere in the white box to make changes. Delete or change parts marked with an *.
Once you’re done, click copy text to clipboard. Check and save your message before you send it.
Worried about paying your mortgage?
If your income has dropped and you are worried about paying your mortgage, speak to your lender as soon as possible.
Mortgage lenders are allowing borrowers to apply for a ‘payment holiday’ of up to 6 months during the pandemic. During this period you do not have to make any payments to your mortgage but be aware that your monthly payment will go up after the holiday ends. The deadline for applying for a payment holiday has been extended to the 31 March 2021. Think carefully before you apply and use the Money Advice Service payment holiday calculator and guide to help you decide if a payment holiday is right for you.
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.
Lenders can start court proceedings to repossess mortgaged properties during the pandemic but, even if a possession order is made against you, lenders should not repossess your home until after the 31 January 2021. If you are facing court action, get urgent advice.
Read our advice on how to deal with mortgage arrears.
For more information on eviction if you have a mortgage, see our pages on mortgage repossession.
Can I get help paying my other bills?
If you are struggling financially because of coronavirus you might be able to get help with your bills and other essential items.
Discretionary Assistance Fund
The Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) provides urgent grants to people in Wales as a last resort. Applications are being treated more flexibly until the 31 March 2021. Watch our Youtube video to find out more about the DAF and how to apply.
Council Tax Reduction
If your situation has changed because of the pandemic you may now qualify for a reduction in your council tax. Click here to find out more.
Energy and water bills
If you are worried about your gas or electricity bills, contact your supplier as soon as you can. 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
- an agreement for someone else to top up your pre-payment meter.
For more advice and help about paying energy and water bills have a look at the National Energy Action (NEA) Help during Covid-19 resources.
Contact your local food bank if you need help with food. 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. You can also check out our advice pages on cash in a crisis to find other sources of help.
You might qualify for benefits or financial help 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.
If you are working age and 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.
Self Isolation payment
If you are losing income because you:
- have tested positive for coronavirus and/or
- been told to self isolate by the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect system or the NHS Covid-19 app
you might be able to apply for a £500 self-isolation payment.
You must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit or be on a low income to apply. Find out more about the self-isolation payment here.
Find out more about what else you can claim on the entitledto website.
See Citizens Advice for more information on:
- statutory sick pay
- benefits if you’re self employed.
If you are vulnerable, homeless or need emergency help phone your local Jobcentre Plus. To find their contact details, and to find out more about claiming benefits and coronavirus 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 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 coronavirus – they must still follow the same steps.
It is likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:
- makes you leave without the right notice or a court order
- locks you out of your home.
Most tenants are currently entitled to 6 months’ notice before their landlord can apply for a court order.
Court proceedings for eviction were suspended for a period but have now started up again. Get advice straight away if you receive any letters from the court.
If your landlord tries to evict you or is harassing you or your family, get advice urgently. See our pages on harassment and illegal eviction and contact your local council, Rent Smart Wales or the police.
I have had an eviction notice from my landlord - what should I do?
Emergency laws have been introduced in Wales to protect tenants from eviction for a temporary period.
From 29 September 2020, most tenants in Wales are entitled to 6 months’ notice before their landlord can start court action to evict them. This includes :
- assured shorthold tenants
- assured tenants
- regulated tenants
- secure council tenants
- introductory tenants
- demoted tenants.
You could be given a shorter notice in some cases. For example if you’re facing eviction for antisocial behaviour.
What if I received a notice from my landlord before the 29 September 2020?
Notices from before 29 September 2020 could still be valid depending on the type of tenancy you have, the notice you received and when you were given it.
Check the notice rules if you are:
- renting from a private landlord and have received a section 21 or section 8 notice
- renting from the council
- renting from a housing association
How soon could I face eviction?
Your landlord can only start court action once your notice period ends.
If you have received a notice you should stay in your home. Try to continue to pay your rent if you can or, if you can’t, contact your landlord to try and agree a repayment arrangement. Use the extra time the emergency laws have given you to try and get on top of things.
If your private landlord gives you a notice which is less than the periods above, you should speak to an adviser.
My landlord has already started proceedings to evict me - will these continue?
The way the courts are dealing with possession cases has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Courts are still able to process possession cases but bailiffs in Wales are unable to carry out any evictions until after 31 March 2021, except in limited circumstances, such as if you are being evicted for anti-social behaviour. This means that even if your landlord has obtained a possession order from the court, in most cases bailiffs will not currently be able to evict you from your home.
There are also some new stages in the possession process. These include:
Reactivation Notices: if your landlord started court proceedings before 3 August 2020 it is likely that it was put on hold for a time. Your landlord must send a Reactivation Notice to you and the court to re-start the case. In the notice they must give information to the court about the impact coronavirus has had on you and your family. Make sure you tell your landlord straight away if you are struggling because of coronavirus, for example, if your income has reduced and you cannot pay your rent. It is best to do this in an email. Your landlord will then have to pass this information on to the court in any Reactivation Notice.
Review Date: in most cases the court will set a Review Date for the judge to review the papers and see if an agreement can be reached before a court hearing takes place. You don’t need to go to court on the Review Date but you will be told when it is so that you can try and make an agreement if possible.
Courts remain open but some hearings might be dealt with by telephone or a video link. Make sure you contact the court in advance of any court hearing if you are worried about going to the court because of coronavirus.
Court duty advisers are available to help you on any Review Date or at any possession hearing. Details of how to contact an adviser should be sent to you with the papers from the court.
If you have received possession papers from the county court use our guide to find out what will happen next.
For more information on eviction, see our pages on eviction : court action.
Always get advice if possession proceedings have started against you. You could still lose your home during the pandemic.
Keeping safe when you are staying at home
The current law in Wales is that you should stay at home, work from home if you can and self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus.
If staying at home puts you or your family at risk of abuse from someone else in the household, you should 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.
Women’s Aid also have lots of help and easy to read information on their website.
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 in shared accommodation, click here.
Can my landlord come around to carry out repairs?
Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus pandemic. 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.
You normally have to allow your landlord access to carry out repairs but you can ask your landlord to postpone any repairs which are not urgent. Anyone who comes to carry out repairs should follow Welsh Government guidance on social distancing.
If someone in your home is self isolating, Welsh Government guidance says repairs should only be carried out if there’s a serious problem that poses a direct risk to people’s safety, for example emergency plumbing.
Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement but they should be rearranged if they cannot go ahead safely because someone in your home is self isolating. Further guidance for tenants and landlords 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.
You can move home but you must try to do as much of the process online as possible and follow current Welsh Government guidance.
You should not move home if you’re self isolating or have tested positive for coronavirus. Any move should be delayed.
If you are shielding and/or at higher risk from coronavirus due to health reasons, you should discuss the move with your GP first.
Can I view a new property?
Initial property viewings should be done online.
If, after an online viewing, you remain interested in a property it is usually a good idea to visit the property in person before you sign a contract. You should follow Welsh Government guidance on social distancing during a viewing, wear a face mask and try to make sure no one is in the property when you view it.
You shouldn’t view a property in person if you’re self isolating or you have symptoms.
Can I stop prospective new tenants viewing my home?
Yes. Your landlord or agent can only arrange a physical viewing of your home with your agreement. If a viewing does go ahead they must follow the Welsh Goverment guidance.
Tell your landlord or agent if you are self-isolating or have symptoms of coronavirus. Viewings should not happen in those circumstances.
You could offer to show the property to new tenants through a virtual viewing on your phone.
If you rent a room in a shared house or house in multiple occupation (HMO), your landlord or agent can arrange viewings of empty rooms but must follow the Welsh Government guidance.
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, they should 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.
Take a look at our step-by-step guide to making a homelessness application.
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 says it cannot help you get advice straight away.
If you are worried about someone that you have seen sleeping rough during the pandemic, you can use the Streetlink website to send an alert and Streetlink will help to link that person up with local support.
You can also look at the Welsh Government information leaflet for rough sleepers.
Where can I get more help?
Read the Welsh Government guidance Renting a home : coronavirus.
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.
For more support with money, have a look at the Money Advice Service coronavirus support page. You can also use their Money Navigator Tool to give you an action plan based on your individual circumstances.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed during this difficult time there are helplines that can support you.
Call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, their lines are always open and you can talk to them about anything.
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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