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Covid-19 and Housing

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If you are a tenant in Preston and you are having problems with paying your rent or your landlord is trying to evict you please contact Housing Advice and we will provide advice and assistance to help resolve the problem.

Contact Housing Advice online

The rules covering evictions have recently changed. This includes longer notice periods and additional court procedures being required before evictions can proceed.

Further details are available below or you can download the Icon for pdf Covid-19 and housing factsheet [57.2KB] and the Icon for pdf Going to court during the Covid-19 pandemic factsheet [61.57KB].

Right to a longer notice

If you rent from a private landlord, a housing association, or your local council, you are entitled to a longer notice.

The minimum length depends on when the notice was given to you:

  • between 26 March and 28 August 2020, the notice must give you minimum 3 months, even if you are in rent arrears
  • between 29 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 the notice must give you minimum 6 months. The notice can be shorter if you owe 6 months' or more worth of rent, you've been accused of anti-social behaviour or you've failed the right to rent check.

The rules for notices served on or after 29 August 2020 are complicated, so seek advice as soon as possible if your landlord wants to evict you.

If you are an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord has served a section 21 notice between 26 March 2020 and 31 March 2021, it will always have to be either 3 or 6 months long.

You're not protected if you're a lodger or if you're staying in emergency accommodation awaiting a decision on your homeless application.

Suspended possession proceedings

Possession proceedings are suspended from 27 March 2020 until 20 September 2020. This applies to anyone who has the right to a court order and a warrant, including homeowners who have a mortgage, tenants, and service occupiers. It doesn't apply to lodgers.

After 20 September 2020, courts will start considering possession claims under the new rules which will apply until 28 March 2021.

In most cases, if a landlord or mortgage lender has already started proceedings, they will have to serve a 'reactivation notice' for the court to consider their claim. They will also have to tell the court what they know about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on you and your dependants.

If you own your home, your mortgage lender will not be able to start or continue with a possession claim until 31 October 2020.

This is because the Financial Conduct Authority has said so. The new rules are complicated, so seek further advice as soon as possible if your landlord or mortgage lender has applied to court or if you have received court papers.

Homeowners - payment holiday

If you're struggling to pay your mortgage because of coronavirus, for example you've lost your income or you can't work because you're sick and/or self-isolating, you can ask the bank for a 'payment holiday'.

It means you'd be able to temporarily suspend payments for up to 3 months and repay the amount at a later date. You have to contact the lender directly to discuss this and they may suggest other options that would be better in your case.

Homeowners can apply for a payment break until 31 October 2020.

Repairs and safety

The pandemic doesn't mean your landlord isn't responsible for repairs to your home but some delays may be inevitable.

If you are unsure what you or your landlord should be doing, check the government guidance for landlords and tenants on how to deal with repairs during the pandemic.

For information about landlords' responsibilities, visit the National Homelessness Advice Service website. In the factsheets section under 'Repairs and safety section' you will find more information.

Homelessness

If you have nowhere to stay, you can make a homeless application to your local council.

The council may have temporary safety measures in place, but they must not refuse to take your application. You can also search for hostels on the Homeless Link.

If you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable because of an increased risk of a severe coronavirus infection, the council may have to provide you with long-term housing support.

For more information on how to apply for help when homeless and what the council will look at, visit the National Homelessness Advice Service website. In the factsheets section under 'Homelessness' you will find more information.

Moving house

The government has asked everyone to observe the social distancing rules when house-hunting and moving home. Visit the government guidance on moving homes for the most recent advice.

Further advice

You can view further advice from England Shelter on local Shelter advice service or local Citizens Advice.

If you have nowhere to sleep tonight, are at risk of harm or losing your home within the next 2 months, call Shelter Helpline on 0808 800 4444 for advice and information on your options. - Calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks.

Going to court during the Covid-19 pandemic

The below information explains how court proceedings have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and what you need to do if you have a court case coming up.

Because of the need to safeguard the public from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, temporary changes have been introduced to court processes. If you have an upcoming court hearing, it will likely be affected.

Staying possession proceedings

All possession proceedings have been suspended until 20 September 2020. It means that if your landlord has applied to court for:

  • a possession order, or
  • a warrant to enforce a possession order they already have the court won't consider the case until after the stay.

Keep an eye out for a letter from the court telling you when the hearing date will be. The stay also applies to court directions, unless both parties agree to proceed.

Seek advice if you think your landlord's possession claim is going ahead and you haven't agreed to it. After 20 September, your landlord may have to serve a 'reactivation notice' for their claim to be considered by the court.

The stay doesn't apply to applications for an injunction, so a landlord would be able to ask the court for an order to prevent anti-social behaviour or harassment.

The factsheet 'Covid-19 and housing' in the 'Covid-19' section on the National Homelessness Advice Service factsheets page offers general information on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected housing.

For general information about possession proceedings, visit the National Homelessness Advice Service factsheets page on 'Landlord seeking possession'.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will not be able to start or continue with their possession claim until 31 October 2020.

Illegal eviction

If you've been illegally evicted by your landlord, you can apply for an injunction to get back in straight away.

For more information, visit the National Homelessness Advice Service factsheets page on 'Harassment and illegal eviction' and the section about what you can do about illegal eviction on Shelter's housing advice page.

Remote hearings - courts and tribunals

Hearings not related to possession proceedings are still going ahead but proceedings may be delayed. This may include:

  • appealing benefits decisions
  • appealing negative review decisions on homelessness applications
  • seeking damages, for example if your home is in disrepair or is unfit for habitation
  • applying for a court order telling the landlord to carry out repairs.

It is likely that your hearing will be conducted remotely, either on-line or by phone. Keep an eye out for any letters or emails from the court or the tribunal telling you about any changes and how to prepare. If you have a legal representative, they should be aware of the situation.

It is important that you tell the court about any difficulties you may have with technology or equipment straight away. Don't wait until the last minute because it could have a negative impact on the outcome of your case. The court should give you specific directions in relation to what technology will be needed and how to present your case.

If you are unclear about anything, ask for an explanation. It might be possible to agree with the landlord to postpone steps due to be taken in your case.

Contact the court or seek further advice to check if you have to formally notify the court about this.

Money claims

It was possible to make a money claim on-line even before the pandemic, so you may still be able to start a claim if, for example, your landlord hasn't returned your deposit to you.

Further advice

You can view further advice from England Shelter on local Shelter advice service or local Citizens Advice.

If you have nowhere to sleep tonight, are at risk of harm or losing your home within the next 2 months, call Shelter Helpline on 0808 800 4444 for advice and information on your options. - Calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks.

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