Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Managing rent payments

As you may be aware the Government announced on 18 March 2020 that due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic they will be introducing emergency legislation so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.

At Network Homes evictions are only ever used as an absolute last resort but it is important to recognise that if you do not pay your rent (or service charges) you are putting your home at risk. This position is unchanged by the Government announcement but we will continue to support people in financial difficulty proactively and compassionately, in line with our normal processes. If benefits currently cover your rent in full they should continue to do so.

Your rent (and service charges) will continue to be due on an ongoing basis. It is important you continue to pay your rent as any arrears will need to be paid, alongside your normal rent, and could lead to significantly increased payments, which may be difficult for you to manage.

We understand that your household income may be affected during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have to self-isolate and are not able to go to work. We’ve provided some information below on what you can do depending on your circumstance and we’ll continue to follow the advice and guidance from the Government about it. Please contact our Income Team on 0300 373 3000 or at customerservice@networkhomes.org.uk if your income has been affected and you have concerns about paying your rent. Network Homes has a team of Welfare Benefit experts who may be able to help you maximise your income during these difficult times.

In March, the government published Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants which provides non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sectors on:

  1. Measures relating to notices seeking possession as amended by the Coronavirus Act 2020
  2. Court action on possession cases during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  3. Property access and health and safety obligations in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

If you receive Universal Credit (UC) and you have a jobcentre appointment but are staying at home on Government advice, or have been diagnosed with coronavirus, you will not be sanctioned if you tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in good time. You must inform the DWP by updating your online journal or calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

All UC paayments have been increased by £20.00 per week which is £86.66 per calendar month. You can find out more information including any updates or changes in guidance on the Universal Credit website: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

Depending on your employment contract and type of work, your income may be affected if you need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. The Government has announced they have made changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to ensure people in work can take the necessary time off to stay at home if they are suffering from coronavirus or to prevent its spread.

This includes:

  • people who cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of their illness.
  • Statutory Sick Pay will be payable to people who are staying at home on government advice, not just those who are infected.
  • if employees need to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home due to coronavirus, they will be able to get it from the NHS 111 Online instead of having to get a fit note from their doctor – you can access it here: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/.

SSP is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week. For more information including details about applying for Contribution Based Employment and Support Allowance (CBESA) visit the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

The Government has made changes to how Universal Credit supports self-employed claimants. Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected. For more information see the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses

It was announced last week (week commencing 23 March) that if you're self employed you will get a taxable grant which will be 80% of the average profits from the tax years (where applicable):

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

To work out the average HMRC will add together the total trading profit for the three tax years (where applicable) then divide by three (where applicable), and use this to calculate a monthly amount. It will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for three months. They will pay the grant directly into your bank account, in one instalment.​

If you started trading between 2016-19, HMRC will only use those years for which you filed a Self-Assessment tax return. If you have not completed your tax return for this year you have an additional four weeks to do so.

For more information, visit the 'Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme' page on the Gov.uk website.

 

It was announced in the 2020 budget that the minimum income floor (for those that are SE there is an assumed minimum income) will be temporarily relaxed. This is to ensure you receive some support which will include both the personal and housing element of Universal Credit.

If you are affected by coronavirus you will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance upfront without physically attending a jobcentre. For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Anyone who's job has been put on hold and they've temporarily been made unemployed, will be designated as ‘furloughed workers’. Your employer will need to contact HMRC and they'll be able to claim back up to 80% of your salary up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (please note HMRC are working to set these systems up). As and when further information becomes available we will update.

 

I receive benefits to help pay my rent or I've been asked to go to a medical assessment
I’m in full time/part time work (Self-isolating)
I’m self-employed or on a zero-hour contract
I’ve been made unemployed as a direct result of the coronavirus
My employer has temporarily let me go