Coronavirus information and advice for private renters

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Vulnerable tenants

The Housing Standards Team can provide assistance to vulnerable private renters who may be experiencing difficulty with housing issues such as the threat of eviction, rent issues and problems with disrepair and safety in the home.

To request assistance please complete and submit our welfare form. You can self refer or someone can refer on your behalf.

 

Living in shared accommodation

Tenants living in HMO’s or other shared accommodation can find advice to assist with cleaning/disinfecting accommodation and general hygiene standards in non-healthcare settings such as HMO’s, hostels and other shared accommodation.  

Tenants in shared accommodation who are self-isolating should follow the Government's advice, to minimise the risk of infecting others. This is particularly important where individuals are sharing facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also important that tenants in shared properties let the property manager know if they have symptoms, the property manager can then let fellow tenants know. As per government advice,  the whole household should now self-isolate for 14 days. 

For more information and support on living in shared accommodation during this time, please see our shared accommodation advice page.

 

Repairs

Landlords’ repair obligations have not changed and urgent, essential health and safety repairs should be made.  Tenants have a right to a decent, warm and safe place to live. 

Urgent repairs include:

  • dangerous electrics
  • fire safety issues
  • damp and mould
  • no heating
  • no hot water
  • overcrowding

Please make sure that you have reported/highlighted any issues to your landlord first and give them an opportunity to address your issues or concerns before reporting to the council. We will ask for evidence of reporting to your landlord. 

The Shelter website has useful template letters that you can use to report repairs to your landlord. If you have not heard from your landlord within 10 working days, we would recommend you send your landlord a reminder letter.

Landlords should normally fix serious hazards such as a broken boiler or an electricity failure within 1 to 3 working days, but less serious hazards such as a dripping tap or broken kitchen units can be repaired over a longer timescale.

An agreement for non-urgent repairs to be done later should be made between tenants and landlords.

If you are concerned that your landlord is not carrying out an urgent repair you should report it or e-mail Housing.Standards@redbridge.gov.uk   

You can find more information on the shelter website or contact Justice for Tenants.

Reporting properties

Tenants can report disrepair in privately rented properties. Visits will be undertaken where there is evidence of disrepair that poses a risk to vulnerable persons or the disrepair is serious.

Make sure that you have reported/highlighted any issues to your landlord first and give them an opportunity to address your issues or concerns before reporting to the council. We will ask for evidence of reporting to your landlord, this can be in the form of email, text message or written letter.

Before any visit you will be contacted and asked if you are self-isolating or have symptoms of Covid 19. If a visit is carried out we ask that you keep your distance from the Officer and allow them to work alone by staying in a different room. These precautions are for your health and safety as well as that of our Officer.

 

Reporting unlicensed properties and HMO’s

If you suspect a property is operating without a licence you can report the suspected property/HMO via our report it form. All HMO’s in Redbridge must be licensed unless exempt. Privately rented properties (single households) in some wards must be licensed, more information can be found on licensing page

Due to COVID 19 there may be a delay in investigations of suspected unlicensed properties.

 

Eviction

What has happened about evictions since lockdown?

For the latest up-to-date information on evictions, please visit the Shelter website and the guidance for landlords and tenants on GOV.UK.

If you need further assistance please see the Housing Options page.

My landlord is asking me to leave – what happens now?

 In most cases, a landlord cannot start possession proceedings until they have served a notice and that notice has expired. The majority of notice periods are, for the moment, 6 months – with the exception of cases of very severe rent arrears and anti-social behaviour (ASB).

If you are in Interim Accommodation or Temporary Accommodation provided by a Local Authority as part of an application as Homeless, the notice period has not been extended. As such, the notice period is likely to be no more than 28 days.

If your landlord serves you a notice, please make contact with the Housing Needs Service on 020 8708 4002 to discuss your situation or email housing.options@redbridge.gov.uk. We may be able to help you stay where you are, or help you find another property.

My landlord had started possession proceedings before lockdown - what happens now?

For possession claims that started before the 3rd of August 2020, the landlord will need to provide the court a “reactivation notice” advising that they still wish to go ahead with the possession proceedings. If a claim started after this date, they do not need to provide this information.

For all current possession claims, the landlord will need to speak to you about your position as a result of the Covid-19 situation as the court will want to know if you have been placed on furlough, lost employment or any members of your household have suffered from Covid-19 themselves. It is important that you respond to these enquiries with any relevant information as it may inform the decision of the Court.

What will happen at the possession hearing?

Some possession proceedings will be heard in person and some may be heard virtually. The Court will give you information about how this will occur.

Can I get help from a lawyer?

There is still a “duty solicitor” service being operated at the courts. Because of the advanced notice of hearings, you may be contacted by the firm of solicitors that hold the Legal Aid contract for providing advice to that court.

My eviction was postponed due to lockdown. When will I be evicted?

The courts are starting to process evictions again. However, you will receive at least 14 days’ notice of your eviction.

If your landlord has sought a High Court Writ (asking the High Court to enforce possession) you should be entitled to 14 days’ notice under the current regulations before eviction.

If you are awaiting a Bailiffs warrant or have received a High Court Writ and have not already contacted us about this please do so on 020 8708 4002 or email us at housing.options.gov.uk so that we can provide appropriate assistance.

Where can I find more information?

The Government has produced leaflets for both landlords and tenants about the current process for serving a notice, seeking possession and evictions. These can be found here:

Understanding the possession action process: A guide for private landlords in England and Wales

Understanding the possession actions process -guidance for tenants

Help from us

If you live in Redbridge and have received an eviction notice from your landlord since the start of the government measures on 19 March 2020, you should contact our Housing Needs team. Their telephone number is 0208 708 4002 and their email address is housing.options@redbridge.gov.uk. They will be able to provide you with advice about what to do at this time.

Justice for Tenants

The Housing Standards Team work closely with an organisation called Justice for Tenants. They can provide tenants with free independent legal advice and assistance on a range of matters relevant to private tenancies. The easiest way to get this free advice is to complete the contact form on their homepage or send an email with the details to info@justicefortenants.org

 

Rent payments

You are still liable for rent and should pay this as usual. If you face financial hardship and struggle to pay this, support is available. You should speak to your landlord first if you have difficulty meeting a rental payment. We would encourage tenants and landlords to work together to put in place a rent payment scheme.

Financial help

If you are facing financial hardship during this time we may be able to provide financial assistance to you. This includes:

Discretionary payments

If you are already receiving housing benefit and or council tax reduction but are still having difficulty paying your rent or council tax, you can apply for a short-term discretionary payment. 

Help to pay your rent and Council Tax

We understand that finances may become stretched during these difficult times. Please remember that your rent and Council Tax are priority debts. In addition to the financial support we can provide via Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and Discretionary Payments we can also:

  • Pay your Housing Benefit direct to your landlord, this may help you to budget and prevent the need for you to leave your home to make your rental payments if you are self-isolating. This will also help to secure your tenancy in these uncertain times.
  • Spread your Council Tax instalments over a longer period of time.

Help with living costs

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • you live in the UK

Find out more on how to claim universal credit.

 

Government guidance

 

https://www.businesshub.london/

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