Current advice for private renters
The Coronavirus Act 2020 protects most tenants and secure licensees in the private and social rented sectors by putting measures in place that say that, in most cases, before starting court action landlords are required to give extended notice of intention to seek possession to their tenants.
· For notices issued between 26th March 2020 to 28 August 2020, the required notice period was three months.
· For notices issued from 29th August 2020, landlords must provide six months’ notice in most circumstances. This will be in force from 29 August 2020 until at least 31 March 2021. However, there are some serious cases where it is right that landlords are be able to start progressing within a shorter timeframe. Examples of this is if rent has been unpaid for at least 6 months or cases of anti-social behaviour.
· At the expiry of the notice period, the landlord cannot force a tenant to leave and they will need to apply to the court for a Possession Order. Possession proceedings are currently suspended due to Coronavirus. A landlord will still be able to start a claim, but they will not be able to progress their claim until after 20th September 2020.
It's important to remember that you still need to continue to pay the rent on your property. Your landlord is likely to commence court action after the suspension is lifted if you fall into rent arrears. It is therefore important to speak to your landlord if you are struggling to pay your rent and seek advice about the help available.
If you have experienced a recent drop of income, please ensure you seek advice from the DWP to see if you are able to get assistance with Universal Credit. If your full rent isn’t being covered by housing benefit or universal credit you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment with the council for a short period of time.
Current advice to Homeowners struggling with mortgage payments
- You can ask your lender for a 3 month payment holiday if you're struggling to pay because of coronavirus. You can ask for this at any time until at least 31st October 2020.
- Check if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments. For example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account.
- Ask your lender about other options. For example, switching to a lower interest rate.
Repossessions are on hold
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.
This means they must not apply for a repossession order or ask bailiffs to evict you.
You may be able to use this time to sort out payment problems and avoid losing your home.
How can we help
If you have been issued with a notice seeking possession by your landlord, or you are threatened with repossession by your mortgage provider, please click here to complete our self-referral form on our homelessness advice page. Once we receive this we will contact you to offer you advice. This may be signposting you to another agency or we may offer you an appointment with a Housing Options Officer.
If you’ve fallen behind with your rent or mortgage and fear losing your home - it’s never too late to seek advice and get back on track. The Essex Outreach Support Service offers visiting support to people living in Essex who are experiencing a range of problems that are impacting on their health, housing or financial wellbeing. For further information on Outreach Support which is provided by Peabody please visit https://www.peabodycareandsupport.org.uk/essex-outreach-support/
Help with your rent
If you have a low income you may be able to get some help to pay your rent. For more information see our benefits page.
Why not check out our benefit calculator to see if you qualify.
The Council is often approached by people who have been asked to leave accommodation because of rent arrears. There are some options you can consider if you find yourself in this situation.
- Do not ignore the problem. Contact your landlord and explain your difficulties.
- Ask your landlord to confirm how much money you owe.
- Draw up a personal budget outlining your weekly or monthly expenditure so you know how much you can afford to pay each month to catch up.
- Claim Local Housing Allowance (housing benefit) if you are on a low income. Many people think that they will not be entitled to Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Benefit because they are working. If you do not apply, you will not find out! If you have been served with notice and you are waiting for your claim to be assessed, contact the benefit department to explain the situation.
- Get advice immediately. The Housing Options Team or a support agency could help you to negotiate with your landlord.
Help With Your Mortgage
A wide range of proactive steps are being taken by the Government in an effort to reduce the impact of the present economic conditions.
Information to help prevent repossessions for homeowners is set out below. For further details please refer to the mortgage advice leaflet.
Protection through the courts
A pre action protocol has been introduced setting out what lenders should do before taking action to repossess in the County Court.
Extra advice for households at court
There is a housing repossession court duty scheme which provides advice to householders who find themselves at court.
The scheme is funded by the Community Legal Services Commission with contributions from the Communities and Local Government department.
For the Tendring residents, this service is operated by Shelter and you can contact them by telephone on 0344 5151860.