Coronavirus and my rent

Last updated: 7 April 2021

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for everyone and the current situation may impact your ability to pay your rent. We can assure you that you will not be evicted if you are negatively affected by Coronavirus but we ask that if you are unable to pay your rent you speak to us to discuss your situation.

If you are in receipt of benefits or still working, you will be expected to pay your rent as normal. We understand that each of our customers’ personal circumstances are different; so we have put together some frequently asked questions to assist you.

If you are affected by Coronavirus and struggling financially as a result of losing your job or seeing a reduction in your earnings, you may be able to claim certain benefits.

If you are employed, the Government has guaranteed that employees unable to work as a consequence of Coronavirus will receive 80% of their salary. You should speak to your employer about this. The benefits you can claim will depend on your circumstances.

You should make a claim for benefits (i.e. Universal Credit) immediately because you may be entitled to help towards your rent. Click here to make a claim.

Universal Credit is available for customers in rented accommodation and shared ownership properties. If you are already claiming Universal Credit or Housing Benefit and your circumstances change during this period you must inform the relevant office immediately. Under the current circumstances we advise you to contact them by phone or visit their website for advice on how to contact them. If you claim Universal Credit you will be able to apply for an advance payment and you will be expected to pay your rent as normal from this.

If you are self-employed and can not work (or are now out of work) you will be able to claim a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Self-employed customers will not see their first grant payment until approximately June 2020. 

You can apply if you’re a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and you:

  • have submitted your Income Tax Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19
  • traded in the tax year 2019-20
  • are trading when you apply, or would be except for COVID-19
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21
  • have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19

Your self-employed trading profits must also be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:

  • having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
  • having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period

If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. You can find further information at

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

If you have lost your job or seen a reduction in your earnings as a result of Coronavirus you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit. This will depend on your personal circumstances and you will need to apply for Universal Credit online.

If you have been working for at least 2 to 3 years and paid National Insurance contributions then you may be able to claim ‘New Style’ Jobseekers Allowance. Click here to find out more.

In addition, if you have been paying National Insurance for at least 2 years and are not fit to work then you may be able to claim ‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance. Click here to find out more.

 

You can apply for Universal Credit online. The following links contain the relevant information about making a claim. It is essential that you do not delay any application for benefits as you may lose out on money you would have been entitled to.

Universal Credit https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-new-style-esa

'New Style' Job Seeker's Allowance https://www.gov.uk/how-to-claim-new-style-jsa

It is important to time your application for Universal Credit carefully. If you are still waiting for any final wage / salary payment you might be best to wait till you have received that money before you apply for Universal Credit. Otherwise, you might find you have to re-apply again because your final wage / salary payment meant you were not entitled to UC and your claim was closed. In addition, this website has further advice on Universal Credit and coronavirus: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/ 

In each of the links you will see reference to the usual process of attending appointments and providing certain pieces of evidence. During this time the Department of Work and Pensions has relaxed its rules around these aspects of claiming the benefits. Therefore, you will not necessarily be required to attend appointments or provide evidence. Due to the current circumstances we advise you to contact them by telephone or via their website for more information. If you require further assistance or advice about any of these issues please do not hesitate to contact your Neighbourhood Services Manager.

It is vital that you contact your NSM at Great Places Housing Group to discuss your present circumstances. You will need to advise your Neighbourhood Services Manager of any reasons why you cannot pay your rent and discuss what you will be paying in the meantime. Your Neighbourhood Services Manager will discuss any existing payment arrangements with you and advise you of what information they need to support these arrangements. If you are still in work with no change to your income you will be expected to pay your rent on time. If you have been made redundant or are now out of work for other reasons you will need to claim Universal Credit. Once you have your benefit claim in place we can then set up a payment arrangement that’s realistic and affordable. If you claim Universal Credit you will be able to apply for an advance payment and you will be expected to pay your rent as normal from this.

Mortgage payers will still have to pay back mortgages for the three month payment break. If you had a 3 month rent period deferred you would still be required to pay it and it could be very difficult in the future when you are paying back any accumulated rent arrears. If you can not pay your rent due to reduced hours or loss of job due to coronavirus, you need to claim benefits in order to ensure your rent is being paid.

If you do not pay your rent, Great Places Housing Group will need to follow its existing arrears procedure. We appreciate that the coronavirus situation is unusual and will hinder some customers from paying their rent in full and on time. As a result we can discuss existing arrangements with customers and make new agreements based on your individual circumstances. It is vital that you discuss this with your Neighbourhood Services Manager and do not stop making payments or choose to reduce payments without first discussing this. If you are in a position to pay your rent during this time and you choose not to pay we will continue to take appropriate action. You risk losing your home if you do not pay your rent in full and on time. It is therefore essential to discuss your situation with the Neighbourhood Services Manager.

Great Places operate non debit weeks in some former council properties in line with the tenancies when these were transferred to Great Places. These properties will not be receiving any additional non debit weeks. These non debit weeks are scheduled in line with the tenancy agreements. We cannot create extra non debit weeks due to coronavirus.

It is not possible to change pre-existing tenancy agreements and create non debit weeks where there were none before. However, if you are struggling financially please discuss this with your Neighbourhood Services Manager.

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage you will need to contact your mortgage provider to find out what options are available to you. If you are a shared owner you may be entitled to some financial help through Universal Credit.

In some instances there are mortgage lenders who are offering customers a mortgage payment holiday but you need to speak to your mortgage provider about this.