If you are worried about rent arrears, being evicted, have developed arrears during the pandemic, or are now having problems claiming benefits to help you cover your rent, you might still be able to prevent your home being lost.
Take the following actions:
- Seek support
- Keep your landlord informed
- Know your rights
- Engage with the new court process
You will find accessing help easier, if you know exactly what your problem is, e.g. the amount of your arrears, what income you have, including what benefits you claim, whether you have other debts, and whether you have been served notice, or have been to court. Collect as much correct information as you can.
If you have court papers that are about you having to leave your home, contact us immediately.
2. Seek support
Those with low or no incomes are often entitled to help with covering their rent through the benefits system. In particular, Universal Credit includes an allowance for help with housing costs. You can find more information about Universal Credit, including information on how to apply on the UK government website. You can also apply for discretionary help from the council. There are independent benefits calculators to find out what, if any, additional benefits you can get and how to claim. These are free to use, and anonymous.
Here is a list of Southampton organisations that can help you with benefits, debt and money advice.
If you have been served notice contact us.
3. Keep your landlord informed
It is important that you continue paying rent to your landlord as usual if you are able to do so. If you are facing difficulties paying your rent, you should talk to your landlord or letting agent, as soon as possible, as they may be able to help you by establishing an affordable repayment plan.
4. Know your rights
Remember, you probably do not need to leave your home now. During the pandemic, the Government extended the period of notice a landlord must give you if they want you to leave your home. However from 1 October 2021 notice periods will revert back to the required periods of notice that were in force pre-pandemic, which in most cases will be two months for assured shorthold tenants.
- If you were served a notice between 26 March 2020 and 28 August 2020 inclusive, the minimum notice period was three months
- If you were served a notice between 29 August 2020 and 31 March 2021 inclusive, the minimum notice period was six months
- If you were or are served a notice between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, the notice period for most renters will have been four months
Your notice period could have been shorter, if your landlord’s claim relates to domestic violence, serious anti-social behaviour or rent arrears.
If your landlord tries to forcibly evict you, this is against the law and you should seek help from the police, you should also contact us.
5. Engage with the new court process (Ask the courts for free advice and mediation)
As part of your housing possession case, your case will be listed by the court for review, this is before any substantive court hearing. At court review the tenant can access free legal advice from duty advisers, and if this fails mediation.
If an agreement is not reached at review, you and the other party agree, and the case is deemed suitable, then the case will be referred to mediation. The court can then arrange for your case to be mediated. Mediation is confidential and less stressful than court.
Tenants who are interested in mediation should raise this with their duty adviser on the day of the review. Details of how to access duty advisers will be given to tenants by the court.
Full details of the court mediation service are on the GOV.UK website.