Renting and coronavirus

Many people are struggling to keep up with their regular rental payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government's Coronavirus Act 2020 aims to protect those at risk, but what does it actually mean? Read our guide to find out.

Many people are struggling to keep up with their regular rental payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government's Coronavirus Act 2020 aims to protect those at risk, but what does it actually mean? Read our guide to find out.

Chris King
From the Home team
5
minute read
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Posted 29 JANUARY 2021

Coronavirus and tenants 

What can I do if I can’t pay rent?

The first thing to do if you can’t pay your rent is to contact your landlord. Do this as soon as you can, so you can try to agree a solution. The government suggests: 

  • reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time  
  • accepting a lower amount of rent if you’re the landlord
  • agreeing a plan to pay off monies owed at a later date 

If you’d prefer to talk to an independent third party for advice, try Shelter, The Money Advice Service or Citizens Advice
 
Your local authority may be able to help you stay in your home with new government funding, as £500 million has been made available for local authorities to fund households experiencing serious financial trouble.

What has the  government said about renting?

A ban on eviction proceedings has been extended until the end of 21 February and will be under review. During this period bailiffs will only be able to serve eviction notices in the most serious circumstances.

There are exceptions, including:

  • illegal occupation
  • anti-social behaviour
  • more than six months’ rent arrears

For more information, see the GOV.UK website

Other help is available for renters:

  • the government has made £500 million available to fund households enduring serious financial difficulties 
  • Housing Benefit and Universal Credit have increased  
  • you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment through your local council
For more information, see GOV.UK

What do the government measures mean for renters? 

You’re still liable for your rent, so if you can afford it, you should pay as usual (don’t forget that your landlord is liable for their mortgage too).  

If your income has been severely affected by coronavirus and you’re struggling to pay your rent, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible. The government is advising tenants and landlords to work together during this time to try to find a rent payment-scheme that works for both parties. 

If your landlord goes ahead with eviction, they’re legally required to have given you notice, which in most cases will be six months. However, there are exceptions.

Find out how you can protect your security deposit with tenants’ liability insurance

Coronavirus and landlords 

What has the government said about landlords?

The government has agreed with lenders to ensure support is available where needed. That includes the option to apply for a mortgage payment-holiday of up to six months in total for landlords with a Buy to Let mortgage. The deadline for applications has been extended until 31 March 2021.

Remember, the general recommendation is for landlords and tenants to work together to find a solution that works for both parties. Landlords are advised by the government not to issue new eviction notices during this difficult time, unless they have a very good reason to do so.

You’re still legally responsible for the standard of your rented property. Landlords can carry out repairs and safety inspections provided they’re done in line with public health advice and relevant COVID-19 laws. 

 

Can rental guarantee insurance help?

Rent guarantee insurance insurance can cover your rental income if your tenants can’t pay their rent. However, many landlords will be asking: is my rental guarantee insurance policy still valid during the coronavirus outbreak? 

The answer is to check with your provider.  

Rent guarantee insurance policies in the UK usually only pay out once the landlord has served a Section 21 eviction notice to their tenants after they’ve stopped paying rent. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, landlords in most cases must have given at least six months’ notice to their tenants before they can start the court process to get an eviction notice. 

With Compare the Market, you can take out rent guarantee insurance (also known as tenant default insurance) that offers £50,000 of cover for rental arrears for 12 months, no matter your monthly rent.

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 29 January 2021, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but please check with your insurance provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details. 

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