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 and how it could affect their housing.  Click on the topics below to help work out what it means for you.

Paying your rent

Paying your mortgage

Paying other bills

Claiming benefits

Eviction

Keeping safe

Repairs

Moving during the pandemic

Homelessness help

Other help

 

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

See the current Welsh Government advice and FAQ’s.

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 :

  • 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.

Make sure any agreement you make with your landlord is in writing. To read our full advice about dealing with rent arrears, click here.

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.

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.

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 has dropped 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. You can ask for this at any time until at least 31 October. 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 until at least the 23 August 2020 and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said that mortgage lenders shouldn’t start or continue court action for repossession until at least 31 October 2020.

Read our advice on how to deal with mortgage arrears.

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.

The Discretionary Assistance Fund provides urgent grants to people in Wales as a last resort. Applications are being treated more flexibly during the pandemic. Find out more about the fund and make an application online here.

If your situation has changed because of the pandemic you may now qualify for some help paying your council tax. Click here to see if you can.

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) Warm and Safe Homes scheme.

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 across Wales. Click here for more details.

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.

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 3 or 6 months’ notice and all court proceedings for eviction are on hold until the 23 August 2020.

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.

Private tenants and housing association tenants

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy or an assured tenancy with a private landlord or housing association you are entitled to the following notice before your landlord can apply to court to evict you:

  • If you received your notice between 26 March 2020 and 23 July 2020, 3 months
  • If you receive your notice between 24 July 2020 and 30 September 2020, and your landlord is not seeking to evict you on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, 6 months.

This applies to all notices served under section 21 or section 8.

If your landlord is trying to evict you on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, or you have a different type of tenancy (for example a regulated or demoted tenancy) and you received a notice after 26 March 2020, you are entitled to 3 months notice.

Council tenants

If you have a council tenancy you are entitled to the following notice before your landlord can apply to court to evict you:

  • If you received your notice between 26 March and 30 September 2020, 3 months.

This applies to secure, introductory and demoted council tenancies.

If you have received a notice from your landlord 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.

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

If your private landlord gives you a notice which is less than the periods above, you should contact Rent Smart Wales – the landlord risks losing their licence.

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 23 August 2020, regardless of when your landlord or mortgage lender applied to court.

During this time:

  • bailiffs won’t evict you
  • landlords or mortgage lenders can’t get an eviction order.

This means you can’t be evicted before the 23 August 2020 and you should stay in your home.

If your landlord or mortgage lender wants to continue the proceedings to evict you after the 23 August 2020 they will need to send a notice to you and to the court. In the notice they must provide information to the court about the impact coronavirus has had on you and your family.

You will be contacted by the court if this happens and you will be told if there is to be a court hearing. The hearing might be dealt with by video or audio link.

If your landlord or lender does not serve a notice before the 29 January 2021, the eviction proceedings will be automatically stopped.

You should still pay your rent or mortgage while you are waiting to be contacted by the court. If you are struggling to pay, see our advice above.

If you are a lodger who lives with your landlord, these rules don’t apply, but your landlord should not insist you move out during the pandemic unless you can do so safely.

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 you should stay at home if you or anyone in your extended 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.

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.

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 shielding or 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 at high risk or 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.

Moving house

You can now move home but you must follow the guidance on social distancing.

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?

It’s usually a good idea to visit a rented property in person before you sign a contract.

Viewings in person are currently only allowed if the property has been vacant for 72 hours. You shouldn’t view a property in person if you’re self isolating or you have symptoms.

Initial property searches should be done online.

Can I stop prospective new tenants viewing my home?

Yes.  Your landlord or agent must not arrange physical viewings of your home whilst you are still occupying the property. The property should be vacant for 72 hours before a physical viewing can take place.

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 should not arrange viewings of empty rooms.

See the Welsh Government guidance on moving home during the outbreak for more details.

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.

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.

For more support with your finances, have a look at the Money Advice Service coronavirus support page.

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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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: July 24, 2020