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Coronavirus and your home

Help if you rent your home

The Government introduced temporary laws to protect tenants.

It initially said that from 26 March 2020 to 30 September 2020, in most cases landlords must give at least three months' notice before they can start court action to evict you. This has now been updated.

  • In Wales, most tenants have been given further protection by the Welsh Government. From 29 September 2020 until 30 June 2021, in most cases a landlord must give you six months' notice.
  • In England, new regulations update the notice period that landlords need to give to end most tenancies. From 29 August 2020 to 31 May 2021, in most cases where there is less than six months of rent arrears, a landlord must give you six months' notice.

From 27 March 2020 until 20 September 2020 the court service suspended (stayed) most possession action because of coronavirus. This temporary stay has now ended. This does not mean that your landlord will begin court action.

If you cannot afford to pay your rent or already have arrears, contact your landlord as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

If your landlord starts new possession action or asks the court to re-start a claim that was previously suspended because of coronavirus, there are extra rules that they need to follow. For more information, see our Rent arrears fact sheet.

In England, the Government has introduced temporary laws that mean in most cases evictions will not be carried out by bailiffs until after 31 May 2021 at the earliest. There are some exceptions, such as where the court has made an order because:

  • there was anti-social behaviour; or
  • there were rent arrears which added up to at least six months’ worth of rent.

If your landlord has used the section 21 process only, you can't be evicted by court bailiffs until after 31 May 2021.

The section 21 process can only be used for assured shorthold tenancies. Your landlord does not need to give a reason, such as rent arrears, for asking for the property back. However, your landlord must follow certain rules. Also, they will need a court order and to use court bailiffs to evict you. Check your paperwork. It will tell you the reason that the landlord has used to ask for the property back.

In Wales, the Government has also introduced temporary laws that mean in most cases evictions will not be carried out by bailiffs until after 30 June 2021. There are some exceptions, such as where the court has made an order because of trespass, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour and nuisance​.

If you are contacted by a bailiff who is threatening eviction, contact Shelter for help.

If you have received possession claim forms, are being threatened with court action or need extra support, contact:

  • Shelter on 0808 800 4444 if you live in England; or
  • Shelter Cymru on 0800 049 5495 if you live in Wales.

Information is also available on their websites.

Tenant Saver Loan Scheme

In Wales, the Tenant Saver Loan Scheme is now open. This scheme offers loans to certain private sector tenants in Wales to cover rent arrears that have built up since 1 March 2020.

To check whether you are eligible, see Credit Unions Wales.

Discretionary Housing Payment

If you claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit with help towards housing costs, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment. A Discretionary Housing Payment can give you extra money to pay towards your rent. To apply, contact your local council. Check whether you can claim online.

Help with your mortgage

FCA guidance

The FCA has issued several pieces of guidance for requesting a payment holiday if you are affected by coronavirus and struggling to pay your mortgage. The most recent guidance includes the following support.

If you already have an existing payment holiday in place

You can extend your payment holiday up to 31 July 2021, but only if:

  • it doesn’t go over the six-month payment holiday limit; and
  • there is no break in the support.

The payment holiday will not be recorded on your credit file. However, some lenders may review your bank account if you apply for more credit. As a result, in some cases this could affect their lending decision.

If you have already had a six-month payment holiday or didn’t ask for one before 1 April 2021

If you are finding it difficult to afford your mortgage payments, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Ask your lender what forbearance options are available and how they will affect your credit file. Your lender should provide support that is tailored to your circumstances. For example, this may include an agreement:

  • to make reduced payments or no payments for a set period of time; or
  • to change the term of your mortgage.

If you previously had a payment holiday which has ended and you can afford to make your mortgage payments again, do so. You will also need to contact your lender to discuss how you are going to catch up with the missed payments.

Possession action in the courts

The FCA also said that while lenders can continue with repossession action, a firm should not enforce repossession of a property before 1 April 2021.

This does not mean that your lender will take court action. However, if your lender starts new possession action or asks the court to re-start a claim that was previously suspended because of coronavirus, there are extra rules that they need to follow. For more information, see our Mortgage arrears fact sheet.

Protection from eviction

Even if possession action is started, temporary laws mean that evictions should not be carried out by bailiffs until after:

  • 31 May 2021 in England; and
  • 30 June 2021 in Wales.

If your lender is threatening eviction or you have received a notice telling you that you will be evicted, contact:

  • Shelter on 0808 800 4444 if you live in England; or 
  • Shelter Cymru on 0800 049 5495 if you live in Wales.

Information is also available on their websites.

Help to Buy customers

England

You can apply until 31 March 2021 for a payment holiday if you were affected by coronavirus and struggling to pay your Help to buy equity loan. The Help to Buy website has an online Payment Holiday Application.

  • If you’ve already had a payment holiday, you may be able to ask for a further three months.
  • However, you will not be eligible to apply for another payment holiday if you have already had two payment holidays that total six months.

Interest will continue to be added to your equity loan during a payment holiday.

When an agreed payment holiday ends, loan payments will automatically return to the normal monthly amount. You will need to contact Help to Buy on 0345 848 0236 to discuss how you are going to catch up with the missed payments.

Wales

If you are worried about making repayments you should contact Help to Buy (Wales) Ltd​ on 0800 0937 937 to discuss your situation.