COVID-19 Financial Help & Support Available for Tenants
Due to the impacts of coronavirus some tenants may find themselves faced with financial difficulties through no fault of their own. Those who are facing lost or reduced income, redundancy or businesses closures will understandably be very worried about how they are going to survive financially in the coming weeks and months.
The Property Hive have been helping tenants to find out about the options available and together we have accumulated some useful information others may find helpful and so have pulled together the following guide.
Please note this is not an exhaustive resource of all financial funding and support available and so our advice is to spend some time researching government and local authority websites where there is a wealth of information available.
Help with Rent
For those tenants residing in privately rented accommodation, we would urge you to contact your letting agent or landlord as soon as you can if you think you might struggle with your rent payments. It’s very important that your letting agent and landlord understand your circumstances so they can ascertain what assistance can be provided. The UK Government has not announced any sort of universal rent holiday during this emergency period, but some landlords may be able to apply for a mortgage holiday where applicable and so may be able to discuss with you a short term holiday or reduction in your rent. Remember, this is only likely to be a holiday from payment and a plan to repay any arrears at some point in the future will need to be discussed. Be prepared to provide your letting agent or landlord with detailed information regarding your finances and situation as most lenders will require evidence to support claims by landlords.
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 which we have highlighted in this guide, and where you can pay the rent as normal, you should do so.
Social and council housing tenants should contact St Leger Homes. Currently they are recommending that people speak to their local rents officer in their area office if struggling with rent payments.
Find out more on the St Leger Homes website.
Help with income
The UK government has implemented several schemes and benefits to help those affected by the spread of the coronavirus. Below are some of the main measures announced so far that we are aware of.
Coronavirus job retention scheme
The government has implemented this scheme to encourage employers to retain staff rather than make them redundant. The government will pay 80% of employee’s usual wages up to £2500 for three months. Employees would need to have been employed on the deadline of the 28th February with the company in order to be eligible. Employers would need to furlough staff which means they are on indefinite leave and unable to complete any work for the employer during the period. More details can be found on this website. If you have recently been made redundant by your employer, you should speak with them to find out if you would be eligible to join the scheme.
Self-employed Income Support Scheme
This government scheme will allow self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. It will be available for 3 months, but may be extended. Further details can be found at the following website.
For those on a low income or out of work you can apply for Universal Credit. This will help you with your living costs. Even though this system has received a great deal of bad press in recent times during its implementation, many of the tenants we have spoken with have said the application process has been relatively straightforward and the payments have started quickly. To find out more and check if you are eligible please see the following website. For information relating to what other benefits you may be entitled to, check out this independent benefit calculator.
Council Tax Payment Holiday
The mayor of Doncaster has recently announced that the council can provide a three month payment holiday for those struggling due to the coronavirus. This is not a discount, but a break from paying for a three month period. This is available to anyone facing financial difficulty.
Anyone who thinks they need to access this support should telephone 01302 734454 where they will be able to discuss their circumstances. Further information can be found at https://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/council-tax-benefits/council-tax
Support with Energy Bills
Customers struggling with their energy bills are advised to contact their energy company directly as some providers are offering assistance and support to customers affected. The government has reached an agreement with the energy industry to support energy customers impacted by COVID-19.
Help with loans credit cards and car finance
The Financial Conduct Authority has been working with lenders to provide some flexibility to customers facing difficulties. The measures they are working towards should assist customers who are having financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19 and encourage lenders to provide payment holidays of up to three months where appropriate and consider the interest which may build up, and balance this against the need for immediate temporary support. If a payment freeze isn’t in the customer’s interests, firms are being encouraged to offer an alternative solution, potentially including the waiving of interest and charges or rescheduling the term of the loan. Further information can be found on their website. Customers are advised to contact their lenders at the earliest opportunity to discuss their situation and what support is available.
Business Rates & Business Grants
Businesses who either pay business rates or currently receive rate relief are able to apply for a 100% discount on business rates and receive a cash grant of between £10,000 - £25,000. The process to apply is simply and the applications have been processed quickly with some business owners reporting receiving the cash within days of making the application. More information can be found here:
If you are aware of any other financial help or support available which has not been included in the article above, please let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is further useful information available at the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advise websites.