Coronavirus - if you have problems with renting
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.
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:
‘self-isolating’ - check if you should be self-isolating
‘shielding’ - find out more about shielding on GOV.UK
Make sure you tell your landlord if anyone in your home is self-isolating or shielding.
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.
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 2020, your landlord had to give you 3 months’ notice.
If you got the notice on or after 29 August 2020, 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.
If your landlord has already started court action to evict you
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 got a Defence form
You should fill in the form and send it to the court as soon as you can. You normally have 14 days to complete and return the form from when you get it. You can talk to an adviser if you need help.
If you’ve got a possession order from the court
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'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.
The government have said you won't be evicted from your home before 1 June 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
- committed 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.
Bailiffs shouldn't evict you if you:
- have symptoms of coronavirus
- are self-isolating
- are 'clinically extremely vulnerable', meaning you're at high risk of serious illness if you get coronavirus - check if you're clinically extremely vulnerable on GOV.UK
If you're in one of these situations, you should tell the court and the bailiffs - their contact details will be on the notice of eviction.
You should talk to an adviser as soon as possible if:
- you get letters or paperwork from the court
- bailiffs try to evict you even though the government have said evictions won't happen
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:
‘self-isolating’ - check if you should be self-isolating
‘shielding’ - find out more about shielding on GOV.UK
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:
make you give people access to your home - it’s unlikely a judge will decide you have to give access
try to make you move out - find out what you can do if your landlord threatens to evict you
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.