Coronavirus information and advice for private renters

There's lots of advice and support for private tenants. For advice and support for council tenants, please see our service changes page.

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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. The NLA have compiled a useful guide to help minimise health risks in rented accommodation.

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

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 still 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.

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.

Complaints about suspected HMO properties will be taken and given priority when normal service can resume.

Eviction

What has happened about evictions since lockdown?

Since the 23rd of March 2020, the Courts suspended all possession proceedings and evictions. This did not, however, prevent new cases from being filed with the Courts.

As of the 21st of September 2020, the Courts have restarted hearing possession proceedings and processing evictions.

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.

Landlords will also be protected by a 3-month mortgage payment holiday where they have a Buy to Let mortgages.

 

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. Please visit our benefits online service

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.

Foodbank Vouchers

Find out how you can access foodbank vouchers if you need them.

Our benefits page has lots more information that you may find useful. 

 

Government guidance

 

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