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
Mortgage lenders have announced support if you have to take time off work because of coronavirus, including a repayment holiday. 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.
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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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If you’re renting in England, evictions have been suspended until 21 February 2021. Your landlord must give you six months’ notice of eviction until the end of March 2021, other than in the most serious cases.
Evictions will not be enforced in areas subject to a local lockdown and will not take place over the Christmas period.
In Scotland, evictions were initially stopped for six months and the Scottish government is proposing extending this until 31 March 2021.
In Wales, evictions have been suspended until 31 March 2021 and your landlord must give you six months’ notice of an eviction.
If you’re a private renter in Wales and are already in arrears, or might struggle to pay your rent because of coronavirus, you might also be eligible for a Tenancy Saver Loan.
This loan will have to be repaid over a period of up to five years and you will be charged interest of 1%.
You will not be eligible for a loan if you’re currently getting Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit.
Find out more about eligibility for the Tenancy Saver Loan and apply on the Gov.Wales website
In Northern Ireland, until 31 March 2021, you must be given 12 weeks’ notice of an eviction.
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.
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.
In England and Wales, enforcement agents (bailiffs) have resumed visits to recover unpaid Council Tax.
Sheriff officers in Scotland and Enforcement of Justice officers in Northern Ireland are currently only undertaking urgent tasks from the courts.
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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