Support for private tenants - coronavirus 

The UK Government has produced a non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Are you struggling to pay rent? Or building up rent arrears due to Covid?

Knowsley Council’s new service can help you and your landlord to ensure you are not evicted from your private rented accommodation due to Covid. This service will look at your finances, help maximise your finances and calculate how much you can reasonably afford to repay.

If you and your landlord would like to use this service please email housing@knowsley.gov.uk or call 0151 443 2340

Please note if you have been served an eviction notice you should contact the Knowsley Housing Options Service

FAQ

Can my landlord evict because of coronavirus?

Your landlord must follow the proper steps to evict you. It's illegal for your landlord to evict you without following those steps. An illegal eviction is a criminal offence - coronavirus doesn't change this.
It's likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:

  • makes you leave without notice or a court order
  • locks you out of your home, even temporarily

What are the new eviction rules during Coronavirus?

  • extend the notice period for evictions
  • suspend eviction court action

All court proceedings for eviction are on hold until at least 23 August 2020, regardless of when your landlord applied to court.

How long is the new notice period?

Three months then the landlord can apply to court. This applies if you get notice on or after 26 March 2020

What if I had notice from my landlord before 26 March?

You should stay in your home. You don’t have to leave at the end of your notice.
It is your legal right to stay until your landlord gets a court order and a bailiff's warrant. They can't do this at the moment because court action for eviction is on hold.

Struggling to pay rent? What are the rules on paying rent during coronavirus?

There is no payment break or holiday for renters. You can only pause your rent payments if your landlord agrees. Speak to your landlord first if you are struggling to keep up with your rent.

Some landlords can apply for a break in mortgage payments if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus, but this won’t always be possible. They will still have to make up missed payments later.

I am in rent arrears or am struggling to pay rent. What should I do?

Speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent. They could be sympathetic especially if you've lost your job or your income has suddenly reduced. They might agree to a rent reduction or to accept rent late. Get any agreement in writing.

Benefits and financial help

I need to claim benefits. Where do I start?

  • Benefit Calculators

You can use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could be entitled to, how to claim benefits and how your current benefits will be affected if you start work. These services are free to use, anonymous and have replaced the benefits adviser service.

  • Universal Credit.

Universal credit replaces six key benefits - Housing Benefit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. If you are applying for benefits now or have a change in situation you will be put onto Universal Credit. Citizens Advice can also assist you with submitting a claim.

Read more about benefits on the council's website.

How much housing benefit can I claim?

Housing benefit for private rented properties is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The amount you can claim varies depending on your household make up. You can find the current LHA rates online on the Direct Gov website.

What if I already get tax credits or benefits but my income has dropped because of coronavirus?

If you have a change of circumstances, you need to inform the relevant organisation directly. You may need to inform more than one:

  • Universal Credit – access your online account or telephone 0800 328 5644. Textphone: 0800 328 1344.
  • Pension Credit information on GOV.UK - service helpline 0800 731 0469. Textphone: 0800 169 0133.
  • Disability Benefits information on GOV.UK – telephone 0800 121 4433. Textphone: 0800 121 4493.
  • Child Benefit information on GOV.UK – telephone 0300 200 3100 or go to the GOV.UK website.
  • Any other benefit - contact JobCentrePlus, telephone 0800 169 0310. Textphone: 0800 169 0314 or go to the GOV.UK website

Please ensure you have your National Insurance Number and all the relevant details of your change of circumstances when you contact any of the above agencies.

I get some housing benefit but now I've lost my job. How can I pay my rent?

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit and you have had a change in circumstances you may need to claim Universal Credit.

If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing element does not cover your full rent and you are struggling to pay the difference, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Do I still have to pay Council Tax?

Council Tax payments are still due, although if you have had a reduction in your income you may be able to claim Council Tax Reduction. If you have made a claim for Universal Credit, you will still need to make a separate claim for Council Tax reduction. If you are struggling to pay and want to request a reduction in your payment arrangement, this can be requested online and you may want to contact Citizens Advice.

Can I get help with food and supplies?

Food banks operating in Knowsley:
The Trussell Trust
Knowsley Foodbank
Big Help Project   
The Big Help Project also run a Food Club, client pays £3.50 and can get approx. 10 items of shopping.

Homelessness

What help can I get if I'm homeless?

It’s important to get help as soon as you know you have a housing problem. Knowsley Housing Options Service can help prevent you losing your home. If you are homeless, are threatened with homelessness or you are just looking for some housing advice contact them by phone:
Tel: 0800 694 0280 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am to 5pm, Wednesday: 1pm to 5pm)

Email: info@knowsleyhousingoptions.org.uk
Website: https://knowsleyhousingoptions.org/

Can I leave my tenancy early because of coronavirus?

You can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either:

  • your contract has a break clause
  • you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord

Your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave if they understand your reasons. For example, if you need to move urgently because you or a family member are sick or need support.

Can my letting agent or landlord still go ahead with visits and inspections?

Yes, with your permission routine inspections and works can go ahead, however, you will have to ensure that social distancing is observed and ask whoever is entering your home to wear a mask.
If you are shielding or feel uneasy you can ask your landlord to put any inspections or works on hold.

What if I need repairs or a gas safety check is due?

Landlords have the same responsibilities for repairs during the coronavirus outbreak. You should report repairs to your landlord or managing agent immediately by phone, email or online.

They might not be able to get the problem fixed during the usual timescales but shouldn't delay repairs unreasonably. Where a landlord fails to take appropriate action to deal with disrepair, you can make an online complaint to the Environmental Health Department at Knowsley Council.

Use Knowsley Council’s online chat function to report issues

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement. Your landlord should rearrange any gas safety checks if they cannot go ahead safely. Guidance is available for tenants and landlords from the Gas Safe Register.