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Coronavirus - if you have problems with renting

This advice applies to England

If you’re having problems with your rented home because of coronavirus, there are:

  • conversations you can have with your landlord to end a tenancy, get repairs done or deal with rent increases

  • steps you can take if you’re struggling to pay your rent

  • temporary new rules your landlord must follow if they want to get you to leave or evict you

  • ways to get help if you’re homeless or can’t keep living in your home

Check if you can get out of your tenancy

You’ll have to talk to your landlord if you want to leave your rented home.

If your contract ends on a certain date, you’ll have to keep paying your rent until that day,  unless your landlord agrees to end your tenancy early. 

If you live with other people, it’s important you all keep paying your rent. If you all signed the same agreement, it’s possible you have a joint tenancy - this means if one person stops paying their rent everyone else might have to pay. 

If someone signed the contract as a guarantor for you or another tenant, they might also become responsible for unpaid rent. 

 You can find out more about what type of tenancy you have and how to end it.

Check if you can get repairs done

Your landlord can still arrange for repairs to your home. You can find out what repairs your landlord should carry out.

Repairs might take longer than usual. Whoever does the repairs will need to follow social distancing rules. 

You don’t have to let anyone into your home to do repairs if you or someone you live with is:

Make sure you tell your landlord if anyone in your home is self-isolating or shielding.

You can find out what your rights are if you refuse access for repair work.

You can check what the government guidance is for doing repairs on GOV.UK.

Check if your landlord is allowed to increase your rent

There are no new rules to protect you from rent increases because of coronavirus. Your landlord does have to follow certain rules if they want you to pay more and you might be able to agree to pay a lower amount. 

You can find out how to deal with a rent increase.

If you can’t pay your rent

There are no new rules to make your landlord reduce your rent. 

If you can’t pay your rent you should explain the situation to your landlord straight away. They might give you more time to pay, or agree to reduce your rent. 

If your landlord doesn’t offer to be flexible with your rent payments, it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can afford. Keep a record of what you discussed with your landlord and how much you paid - you might need it if you ask for housing help from the council. 

You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice - an adviser can help you explain things to your landlord. 

You may be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working. You can check what benefits you can get.

If you don't have enough money to pay your rent after paying all your essential bills, then your home may not be affordable. You might be able to ask for housing help from the council.

You can also check what help you can get if you can't pay household bills because of coronavirus.

If you rent from a private landlord

You can find out more about dealing with rent arrears.

If you rent from a council or housing association

Find out what to do if you can’t afford to pay rent for your council home

If your landlord is trying to get you to leave or evict you

Your landlord might have to give you extra notice to leave before they can go to court to evict you. This is because the government made a change to the law about eviction notices to help people deal with coronavirus. 

Your landlord can now take court action to evict you if your notice has ended. Talk to an adviser as soon as possible if:

  • your landlord asks you to leave 
  • the court sends you documents or a letter about a hearing

If your landlord has given you notice to leave

Your landlord must give you notice if they want you to move out - this is called ‘notice seeking possession’.

The government have changed the amount of notice your landlord has to give if you have:

  • an assured or assured shorthold tenancy - you’re likely to have this if you rent from a private landlord or housing association 
  • a secure, introductory or flexible tenancy - you’re likely to have this if you rent from the local council
  • a protected tenancy - you’re likely to have this if you started renting from a private landlord before 15 January 1989
  • a demoted tenancy - you might have this if you rent from your local council or from a housing association

If you rent from a private landlord, your tenancy type depends on your tenancy agreement. You can check your tenancy type.

If you don’t have one of these tenancies, the rules about notice haven’t changed. If you’re not sure how much notice you should get, get help from an adviser.

If you’ve got one of these tenancies, the rules are different depending on when you got the notice.

If you got the notice at any time from 27 March to 28 August, your landlord had to give you 3 months’ notice.

If you got the notice on or after 29 August, your landlord had to give you 6 months’ notice unless:

  • you owed them at least 6 months’ rent
  • you aren’t allowed to rent because of your immigration status
  • you’ve committed antisocial behaviour or a criminal offence
  • you told a lie to get the tenancy
  • someone you lived with has accused you of domestic violence or abuse and has moved out

Read through the notice carefully when you get it – it should say why your landlord’s trying to evict you.

Get help from an adviser if you think your landlord hasn’t given you enough notice.

You won’t have to leave your home when the notice ends. Your landlord will have to apply to the court to evict you if they still want you to leave.

If you rent a room in your landlord’s home

Your landlord can ask you to leave - they won’t have to go to court to evict you. They have to give you notice but it doesn’t need to be in writing - it should be for a reasonable period of time, like 28 days. 

If you don’t leave at the end of your notice, your landlord can evict you as long as they don’t use force. For example, they can change the locks while you’re out but they must look after your belongings and let you have them back. 

If they use force, you should go to the police. This is a criminal offence.

You can check what rights you have as a lodger.

If your landlord has already started court action to evict you

Your landlord can now continue their application to evict you.

If your landlord first applied to evict you before 3 August 2020, they have to write to you and the court for their claim to continue. This is called a ‘reactivation notice’.

If your landlord first applied to evict you after 3 August 2020, you might only be told the action has restarted when you get letters or papers from the court. You won’t be sent a reactivation notice.

Talk to an adviser as soon as possible if you get any paperwork from your landlord or the court. 

Tell your landlord now if you or someone you live with has been affected by coronavirus. Your landlord has to tell the court, and it might help you stop or delay your eviction. For example, tell your landlord if:

  • you’ve been ill with coronavirus
  • you’ve lost your job
  • a family member has died

If you’ve got a possession order from the court saying you’ll be evicted, talk to an adviser as soon as possible. You might be able to stop the eviction, but you’ll only have a short amount of time to take action.

If you got a Defence form before 28 March 2020

Talk to an adviser as soon as possible to fill in the form. You should send it to the court as soon as you get a letter saying your case has started again.

If you had a court deadline at any time from 28 March to 20 September 2020

Your landlord should write to you to tell you they've asked the court to continue with their claim – this is called a ‘reactivation notice’. Check your reactivation notice to find out if your deadline has changed and what your new deadline is.

If you can’t meet the deadline or don’t agree with the new timetable suggested by your landlord, write to the court to tell them why and ask if they can change it. For example, tell them if you’re too ill to meet the deadline. You should ask them within 14 days of getting the letter.

If you’re not sure when your deadline is or if you think you might have missed it, contact the court or your solicitor or adviser if you have one.

If you're worried about bailiffs visiting

Your landlord might already have got a possession order from the court or you could have received an N54 Notice of Eviction.

If your landlord’s got a possession order, they can ask the court to let bailiffs evict you. Bailiffs will need to give you 14 days’ notice of their visit. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you’re self-isolating, you should tell the bailiffs - your eviction might need to be delayed.

The government have said you won't be evicted from your home before 22 February 2021, unless you:

  • are being evicted for antisocial behaviour
  • are being evicted because you're in at least 6 months of rent arrears 
  • were accused of domestic abuse by someone who has moved out
  • commited fraud or lied to get your tenancy 
  • are trespassing or squatting in the home

If the person on the tenancy agreement for your home has died but you’re still living there, bailiffs still shouldn’t evict you. 

You should talk to an adviser as soon as possible if:

  •  get letters or paperwork from the court
  • bailiffs try to evict you

You can also check what you can do if you get a Notice of Eviction.   

If your landlord forces you to leave your home

If your landlord is required to get a court order to evict you and hasn’t but still makes you leave, this is likely to be an ‘illegal eviction’.  

It will be an illegal eviction if they make you leave by:

  • changing the locks
  • stopping you using part of your home
  • threatening or physically harassing you to leave
  • turning off the water or energy supply

If this happens you should report it to the police.

You should also contact your local council. They might have a Tenancy Relations Officer who can try to talk to your landlord or take action to get you back into the property. They might be able to help you find emergency accommodation if you need it.

You can also take legal action to get back into your home. Although a lot of courts are closed, it will be considered an emergency. If you’re going to take legal action against your landlord, it’s best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your landlord wants you to let people in to view the property

Your landlord can’t force you to let people into your home for viewings. If you agree to let people into your home to view it, it’s best to:

  • leave the inside doors open so people don’t have to touch them

  • leave your home during the viewing

  • clean any surfaces people might have touched after the viewing and wash your hands with soap

If you don’t want people to view your home

Tell your landlord if you don’t want people to come to your home – for example if you or someone you live with is:

If people still come to view your home, you don’t have to let them in. They can only come in if you say they can.

If your tenancy agreement says you have to give access for viewings

You can still refuse to let people in but if you do, it might mean you’ve ‘broken a term’ of your tenancy agreement. 

Breaking a term won’t automatically cancel your tenancy agreement but your landlord could go to court to try to either:

Letting people view the property in other ways

Your landlord might ask you to help them sell the property or find new tenants in other ways, for example by filming a video of the property. It’s your choice whether to agree.

If you're living with others and are worried about your health

If you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition, you might have been told to shield yourself. You should try to keep 2 metres away from other people you live with, especially if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

If your shared housing makes it impossible for you to be safe, you can ask your local council for help finding somewhere else to live. For example, if you’re extremely vulnerable because of a medical condition but you live with a nurse.

You’ll need to make a homeless application

If your council doesn’t offer suitable alternative accommodation, you should talk to an adviser.

If you become homeless

You can ask your local council for help if you’re homeless or you can’t carry on living in your home because of coronavirus - check if you can apply for homeless help

You can also see what you can do if you have nowhere to stay tonight.

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