Guide to renting privately during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Guide to renting privately during coronavirus (COVID-19)
1. Paying rent
For the most up to date Government guidance visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The government’s guidance for landlords and tenants about paying rent during coronavirus (COVID-19) is:
“Tenants should continue to pay rent and abide by all other terms of their tenancy agreement to the best of their ability. The government has a strong package of financial support available to tenants, and where they can pay the rent as normal, they should do. Tenants who are unable to do so should speak to their landlord at the earliest opportunity.”
This means that regardless of your employment status or income, your rent remains legally due as per your agreement (tenancy or licence).
You and your landlord should work out an agreement that’s best for everyone. You may have seen a significant change in circumstances and may not be able to pay rent, or may only be able to pay part of your rent.
A landlord with a mortgage on the rental property may be eligible for a mortgage deferral or ‘holiday’ for three months from their mortgage provider. During this time, the landlord may agree to a rent deferral too. This is up to you and your landlord to negotiate and agree. If your rent is deferred, you’ll still need to pay it back.
If a rent freeze, reduction, or deferral is agreed, get the agreement in writing so that you can rely on it. You may want to set up a payment plan for any deferred payments, as these will still be lawfully due unless your landlord explicitly agrees otherwise in writing.
During a mortgage deferral, the outstanding mortgage balance still accrues interest so may increase the monthly minimum payment for your landlord.
If you’re finding it difficult to pay your rent or have money or debt problems, see the information on our Money advice page.
2. Moving house
In line with the government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house or allow viewings for the time being, if at all possible.
Government guidance changed on 13 May 2020 and you are now able to move home, as long as social distancing measures are followed by landlords, agents, and new tenants. This includes conducting and attending viewings, check-ins, and check-outs.
This includes guidance for removals firms, which are now able to operate.
The government has banned evictions for residential tenancies and licences, with some exceptions, until 23 August 2020, under Schedule 29 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
This means that a court cannot:
- hear any possession claim
- grant a possession order
- instruct a bailiff to evict you in that time
New claims can still be issued. However the Government are urging landlords to consider if this is necessary.
Whether you live in your property under an Assured Tenancy, Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), or another type like a Flexible, Protected/Statutory, Introductory, or Demoted tenancy, you’ll now be entitled to 3 months’ notice to be evicted.
Some tenancy agreements also require the landlord to provide the notice on a prescribed form. If they don’t, the notice may be invalid and you may be able to stay in your home for longer, or until the landlord sends you the correct form. The most common type of notice a landlord can service is a Section 21 notice.
Always seek advice if you get an eviction notice. You may get a section 8 notice that has lots of ‘grounds’ that a landlord can evict someone on, but this still requires 3 months’ notice.
If your landlord tries to illegally evict you, or harasses you to make you leave your property, they may be committing a criminal offence. Call 0117 35 25010 to discuss with an officer in the Private Housing Team.
4. Living in a shared house
The government has produced multiple documents of guidance on what measures people should take when they share a home with others, including advice on cleaning in a non-healthcare setting and for social distancing.
If the landlord is moving a new person in to a shared house, they should only be doing this where they can’t reasonably suspend this or re-arrange a move in date to the future. Follow the social distancing guidance in that situation. Think about using a house rota where the new person is the last to use the kitchen, bathroom, and shared spaces. Those spaces should be cleaned afterwards.
Where any member of a shared house starts to show symptoms of COVID-19, all members should follow government guidance on self-isolating.
5. Repairs and emergency works
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue provided that the tradesperson and the household are well and have no symptoms. Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2-meter distance from any household occupants, must be followed to ensure everyone’s safety
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs. The tradesperson has to be willing to do the work. In such cases, Public Health England can give advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
Read more government guidance about carrying out work in people’s homes.
Some properties may require a licence to be rented privately. This includes some Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and other properties in certain areas of Bristol.
A landlord cannot issue a valid ‘no fault’ eviction notice (s21 notice) if your property requires a licence but doesn’t have one (or has an approved exemption). Read our Types of property licence page for more detail and check the public register. This doesn’t affect the validity of a section 8 notice.
7. Lodgers and other excluded occupiers
You don’t have the additional protections of the Coronavirus Act 2020 if you’re a lodger or another ‘excluded occupier’ that is not protected under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This includes:
- lodgers (shared accommodation with your landlord)
- housing granted otherwise than for money (for example rent-free or providing a service)
- temporary accommodation provided under s188 for homelessness applicants
- residential tenancies under c1 (Part III) Immigration Act 2014
- occupation in a hostel provided by the council, a housing trust that is a charity, or social landlord/registered provider of social housing
- housing under s4 (Part IV) Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- staying for a holiday only (for example a hotel or Airbnb)
- short-term stay in a hostel
You may not be entitled to three months’ notice, and are likely only eligible to be given ‘reasonable’ notice. The landlord will not need a court order to evict you. Reasonable notice is normally the same period of time you pay your rent. i.e. weekly or monthly. This means currently you can still be evicted legally after been given notice.
If you live with your landlord but don’t share living accommodation or are a service occupant (with your accommodation tied to your employment), you may be an occupier with basic protection and may only be able to be evicted with a court order. Contact our office, Shelter, or Citizens’ Advice to discuss.
8. Bristol City Council contacts
To discuss any of the information in this guide or to report your landlord for harassing you to make you leave your property or illegally evicting you, call us on 0117 35 25010. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re at risk of being made homeless, call our Homelessness Prevention Team on 0117 35 26800.
The information in this guide is not intended as an authoritative interpretation of the law. Only the courts can do that. The information doesn’t cover every case. For further guidance, you may want to seek legal guidance from a solicitor.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an authoritative interpretation of the law, only the Courts can do that. Neither does this information cover every case. For further guidance, it may be advisable to seek legal guidance from a solicitor.
© Bristol City Council. April