Coronavirus - Tenant advice

Here when you need us

The Coronavirus has come as a shock to us all. For some people, it has caused strong emotions such as stress, anxiety and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Others are struggling with lack of money, food, gas and electricity or other essentials. Some of the rules about landlords and tenants have also changed which can be confusing. You are not alone. Find answers below to questions tenants have been asking, along with details about where you stand and the help available.

You don’t feel shy about telling them about the problems you have or anything, cos they never criticise, they just help you like good Samaritans really. They can never do enough for you, they’re really helpful.

Rochdale tenant

FAQ’s about renting during the Coronavirus outbreak

What should I do if I think I may have the virus?

You should follow government guidance on self-isolation, which you can find here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

You can ring 111 for advice if you are concerned about how you are feeling or ring 999 if it is an emergency, for example you are having problems breathing.

If you live in a shared property and have symptoms, you should tell anyone you share the property with immediately, so that they can reduce the risks to themselves. If your landlord needs to arrange a visit to the property for an urgent reason, for example to fix a broken boiler or a major leak, you should also let them know if you have symptoms or are recovering from Coronavirus, so a plan can be made to do any urgent repairs as safely as possible for everyone involved.

I was already receiving support from The Bond Board, will this continue?

Yes, this will continue, but how we support you will need to change for now. For example, support is most likely to be by phone or email instead of a home visit or an office appointment, as our offices are currently closed to the public.  Group meetings, such as ‘Quid’s In’ have unfortunately had to stop. When the Government advice changes, we will look at again at the ways in which we can offer support.

We are contacting everyone who gets support or has a Bond Guarantee with us to see how you are and what help you need, but if we haven’t spoken to you yet and you need support, please contact us. We are still here and ready to help.

Do I still need to pay my rent?

Yes, tenants still need to pay rent and keep to the usual terms of their rental agreement. If you don’t pay your rent, you could end up losing your home. If your circumstances have changed and there is a problem paying your rent on time, it is important to talk to your landlord about this as soon as possible.

Can I get help with my rent?

You might get help towards your rent and Council Tax if your circumstances have changed, for example you are earning less or you have lost your job. You can get help if you are on a low income or on most benefits. Local Housing allowance and Universal Credit have been increased to cover housing costs and help those most in need.
If you’re a private tenant in Rochdale or Bolton, contact us if you need advice or help to claim.

What if I have rent arrears?

It is important that you keep in contact with your landlord so they know why you are in rent arrears and so you can try to make an agreement about how you will get back on track. If you agree a plan to pay off arrears at a later date, it is important that you stick to this plan and that you talk to their landlord immediately if you can’t keep to what has been agreed.

If you’re a private tenant in Rochdale or Bolton and are worried about paying your rent or rent arrears, contact us for further advice and support.

Do I still need to pay my Council Tax?

You still need to pay your Council Tax. However, if you are struggling to pay, contact your local Council for advice. Some Councils are reducing the bills for 2020/21 which might mean you pay less. They might be able to help you to spread the cost over a longer period or make another arrangement with you. You can also check that you are receiving the right level of help towards your bill if you are on benefits or a low income.

If you’re a private rented tenant in Rochdale or Bolton and have any worries about paying your Council Tax or other bills, contact us.

Can I still get repairs done?

Tenants have a right to a decent, warm, and safe place to live and landlords are still expected to do repairs. However, if your repair is not urgent you should  let your landlord know but work out with them whether it would be better to delay the repair work until the Government advice about reducing contact with people outside of your home changes.

If your repair problem is urgent, for example if you have a problem with your boiler or a major leak, you should expect your landlord to deal with this quickly where it is reasonable and safe to do so. If your landlord or other contractors need to come into your home to do urgent repairs, you should follow Government guidance, including staying at least 2 meters apart from them and washing your hands regularly.

What if my landlord wants me to leave?

It’s illegal for your landlord to evict you without following the proper steps. Most of the time,  a landlord cannot make you leave your home without a notice or a court order and cannot lock you out of your home.

The rules that landlords have to follow to get you to leave your home have changed because of Coronavirus.

  • Most tenants should have received at least 3 months’ notice before their landlord can apply to court for possession of the property if the notice was received between the 26 March 2020 and 28th August 2020.
  • From the 29th August 2020, notices should be at least 6 months, unless you have a high level or rent arrears or some other serious issues, such as anti-social behaviour.

If you got a notice to leave , 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 bailiffs warrant.

  • From the 21st September 2020, the court are re-open. This means that landlords can start to apply for possession of your home via the courts again once any notice period has run out.  If they had already applied to court to get possession of your home before the courts were closed, landlords can restart those possession proceedings, but they will need to let you know about this by sending you a notice first.

If you are a private renting tenant in Rochdale or Bolton and you are worried about being asked to leave, contact us or your local homelessness department.

Can I still move home?

If you do not have an urgent need to move home, then you may find it easier to stay  where you  are for now.

If you need to move urgently due to Domestic Abuse, there is help and support available.

  • Call 999 if you are in immediate danger
  • If you call 999 from a mobile, you can also press 55 if it is difficult to talk- this will transfer your call to the police. Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.

For advice and support about domestic abuse you can also contact;

  • The free National Domestic Abuse helpline on 0808 2000 247
  • For males experiencing Domestic Abuse, the men’s advice line on 0808 8010327
  • LGBT Domestic Abuse helpline on 0800 999 5428

If you are a private tenant in Rochdale or Bolton and you need to move urgently for any reason, you should contact either Bolton Council’s Housing options team, details HERE or Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s Homeless Team HERE

 

Can I get help with essentials like food or top ups on my meter?

Nobody should be without food. If you are a private tenant in Rochdale or Bolton and haven’t got enough food to eat for any reason, contact us for advice. We will try to put you in-touch with services that can help.

If you can’t go out to top up your gas or electricity meter or are struggling for money to do this, contact your supplier to see if they can help. If the problem isn’t sorted, contact us for further advice and support.

There might also be other help available via your local Council, especially if you are classed as extremely vulnerable by the Government.

Bolton Council

  • Bolton Council helpline for the extremely vulnerable: 01204 337221
  • If you are not in an extremely vulnerable group: 01204 333333

Rochdale Council

  • If you’re a vulnerable and are isolating or know of a vulnerable resident that is isolating and requires emergency food supplies, or any other help and support call: 01706 923685

What if I can’t cope or I’m having mental health problems?

During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. If you had mental health difficulties before coronavirus, your symptoms might have become worse.

  • You can get further advice via Mind’s website: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
  • If you already have mental health problems, keep taking any medication you have been prescribed by your GP and contact them or ring 111 if you are having difficulties getting your medication.
  • If you are already have people helping you because of mental health problems, try to contact them by phone if you need more support
  • You can also speak to someone in confidence at the Samaritans by calling: 116 123 any time, from any phone.
  • If you’re having a mental health crisis, call 111 or 999 for further advice.

Contact us if you need support

Whatever problems you have, we will do our best to help. We won’t judge you and we will treat
you with dignity and respect.