Something that is going to be hard to cover if you’ve got a sudden drop in income and don’t have access to savings is your mortgage or rent payments.
If you have a mortgage
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Mortgage lenders have announced support if you have to take time off work because of coronavirus, including a repayment holiday of up to three months. This includes buy-to-let mortgages.
This is helpful although it appears decisions to offer this support will be made on a case-by-case basis. Therefore the most important thing is to talk to your lender immediately to discuss your options if you think you could miss a payment.
Some banks, building societies and lenders have already announced what they will be doing to help people affected by coronavirus:
If you’re renting
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The government has announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
Your landlord will not be able to apply to the court to start possession proceedings until you have missed rent payments for at least three months.
If you’re living in a buy-to-let property, your landlord will be able to apply for the three-month mortgage payment holiday if you are experiencing financial difficulty so they shouldn’t put any pressure on you to meet rent payments during this time.
If you’re still unable to meet rent payments after three months, your landlord should take every step to ensure that you continue to stay in your home. They will be expected to take into account your financial circumstances and try and work an affordable repayment plan with you before they start any proceedings.
If you’re a social housing tenant, talk to your tenancy support officer or housing officer who will be able to support you and work out an affordable repayment plan.
If you’re on Universal Credit and usually pay the rent yourself, talk to your work coach about what they can do to support you to keep rent payments on track.
In Scotland, legislation will be brought into stop evictions for both private and social tenants for up to six months. There will also be no evictions of housing association tenants facing financial hardship because of coronavirus.
If you’re worried about paying your Council Tax
Council Tax payments are a priority debt and missing payments can quickly become a serious problem. It’s a bill that you should always make sure you pay on time if you can.
However, councils are aware people may be struggling with their council tax payments and many are already offering help including
- allowing arrears to be paid over the rest of the year
- deferring payments until a later date.
In England, the Government has announced an extra £500 million for Council Tax relief for vulnerable households.
The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) which represents enforcement agents (bailiffs) in England and Wales has completely suspended enforcement visits to recover unpaid council tax for the time being.
Many of the agents are on furlough but where staff are working local authorities have requested that they use a Iight-touch approach. This is primarily identifying vulnerable people and offering extensions to repayment plans and payment holidays.
If you think you won’t be able to pay your Council Tax, make sure you tell your local council before you miss a payment. They will be able to help you if they know, particularly if it is because of coronavirus. It’s also important you keep talking to them, especially if they decide to start chasing non-payments again.
To find out what support is available in your area, contact your local council or visit their website.
Rates in Northern Ireland
Rates will be frozen for 2020/21 and your first bill will be delayed until June.
Council Tax Reduction
If you’re claiming Universal Credit or you’re now on a very low income, you might be able to get some help towards paying your Council Tax.
Each local council has its own Local Council Tax Reduction scheme, so you will need to apply to them directly.
Most councils won’t backdate payments. So if you’re claiming Universal Credit for the first time, don’t waste any time. Make sure you apply for a reduction as soon as you’ve made your claim.
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