How do you access help if you can't afford your home?

publication date: Mar 20, 2020
 | 
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

How do you access help if you can't afford your home?

 

UPDATED 2nd APRIL 2020 FOR THE STAY AT HOME MEASURES

 How do you access help if you can't afford your home?


Don’t worry: If you are concerned about keeping a roof over your head, there is help available.

Lenders cannot repossess your home and landlords cannot evict you. 

Whatever you do, don’t just stop paying your rent or mortgage. If you want to help yourself and your family through this difficult time, you must communicate that you are struggling.


Basically, the government understands you may struggle to pay rent or your mortgage at this time. As a result they have measures in place which you should seek to secure help to boost your income first, before you look to not pay either your mortgage or rent. Any deferral of payment is likely to cost you in more interest for a mortgage, or in repaying the rent you didn't pay during the issues caused by Coronavirus.

However, if you have do still need help, please see what you need to do and help that's available below.

For more help, please read our Q&As for consumers during Coronavirus, for:

Tenants

Contact your local housing office for extra help

Your local housing office should have details of what help they can give you at a local level. Emergency funds have been promised to councils, so check with them what support you are entitled to receive.

What financial help can you access?

If you are on benefits

If you are on benefits, these should still continue. If you usually work and also receive benefits but then lose your job during this crisis, contact your benefits office or your local housing office to see what additional help you can get.

If you are on Universal Credit, the government has also announced another £1,000 to be paid over the next 12 months.

In addition, it was announced that LHA was going to matched to the 30th percentile of market rents. For some, where rents haven't increased, this won't make a difference, but for others, it could worth up to £50 per month. Find out how much additional rent you could secure via the Resolution Foundation new LHA rates.

 

Usually work but have lost your job due to the impact of Coronavirus?

It might be that you are poorly and self-employed or on zero hours, or you could be working for a company that has been badly affected, such as the airlines, Carphone Warehouse, etc.

There is help available and this web page should help you: Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses.

If you are working and are sick

You should be able to get statutory sick pay from day one (previously day four) from your employer.

Your employer may not be aware of the changes, so you may need to advise them. let them know they can get the money back from the government.

Here are the details of where to get help: Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses.

Contact your landlord or letting agent

Although your landlord/agent can still service notice to evict you, the notice period has to be for three months and they will then have to apply to the court. This applies to existing notices and new ones from 27th March 2020.

But this doesn’t mean you can simply choose not to pay your rent or ask for a rent reduction, any money the landlord says you don't have to pay now, will, typically mean you will still owe the landlord the money and have to pay it back when you are working again, feeling better.

However, if you are poorly or have lost your job:

  1. Talk to your landlord/letting agent to advise them you are going to struggle to pay rent
  2. Seek help from the government and local authority: Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses.
  3. Agree a payment plan with the landlord/agent.

Contact your mortgage lender

Mortgage lenders are offering three-month ‘holidays’ but you need to contact them and explain why you need the help. They are currently inundated, so please be patient with them. Messages of this offer have not reached everyone in their call centres and much of their capacity has been lost due to people in isolation, poorly or in call centres in other countries being locked down.

Most lenders are asking for “self certification” that you are impacted by the virus either directly or indirectly.

However, there are lots of different ways of getting help during this time. You can ask to move to 'interest only' payments, you can 'add on' the three months to your current mortgage term or you could just offer to pay an amount you could afford. 

Remember a full 'mortgage break' will not only mean you owe the money that you haven’t paid, interest will accrue and you are likely to end up paying more overall!

The FCA have confirmed this SHOULD NOT affect your credit rating but make sure you have this in writing from your lender.

If you are a landlord, you will need some information from your tenant to show the lender that they can't pay the rent. Remember too, you may secure £750 rent, but your mortgage may only be £550 a month and it's only this amount that you will be allowed to defer. 

The latest I have heard is that some lenders are saying they are not helping landlords, this is incorrect and I think it's because the 'message' hasn't got through to all call centres. So, bear with them, try again at another time and if necessary use a broker instead. Some lenders have an online system you can apply for, for example Nationwide online form.

Please note this is the official Government guidance for people and property during the stay at home measures for landlords and tenants:

Government support available for landlords and renters
Renting guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities
Landlord right to rent checks


Wales has also provided information for tenants, landlords and agents:

Wales: guidance for tenants in the PRS
Wales: RentSmart guidance 


Scotland

Renting Scotland


Northern Ireland

Renting in Northern Ireland


Carrying out work on a property eg safety checks or renovations

Government guidance for carrying out work on a property

 
Cleaning a property 

Government guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings



For more help on Coronavirus, please read our articles on buying, selling, renting, investing, managing and affording property


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RPSA
Investing via a limited company -
Rita4Rent
Renting by the room -
SpareRoom
Choosing a surveyor and type of survey checklist Investing via a limited company checklist

 


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