Housing: Guidance for Tenants

Housing: Guidance for Tenants
– Update 18 June 2020

Most tenants cannot be evicted at the moment as all court action for eviction is on hold until at least 23 August 2020. The ban on evictions was due to end in June but this has now been extended.

During this time:

  • bailiffs cannot evict you
  • landlords cannot get an eviction order

You should stay in your home even if you have already had notice or your landlord applied to court before the outbreak.

If you are a lodger who lives with your landlord, the rules are different. If you live with your landlord, you are entitled to either:

  • stay until the end of your agreement
  • reasonable notice before you have to leave

Your landlord will not need to get a court order once your agreement or notice ends. However, they should not insist that you move out during the lockdown unless you can do so safely.

What if my landlord pressures me to leave?

You can and should stay in your home. It is illegal for your landlord to:

  • harass you
  • lock you out of your home, even temporarily
  • make you leave without notice or a court order

You can get help from your local council or from the court if your landlord stops you accessing your home.

For further guidance and to arrange to speak to a Paperweight Caseworker, please call Paperweight on 020 8455 4996 or e-mail info@paperweight.org.uk

Can my landlord give me notice during the lockdown?

Your landlord can give you notice but they cannot make you leave.  From 26 March 2020, you are entitled to at least a 3 months’ notice period if you are a:

  • council or housing association tenant
  • private renter who gets a section 21 or section 8 notice

The 3 months’ notice period does not apply to lodgers and some people in temporary housing.

What if I had notice from my landlord before 26 March?

Your notice may still be valid, but your landlord will not be able to get an eviction order while the court eviction process is on hold.

You do not have to leave when the notice ends. Your tenancy continues if you stay in your home.

Can I leave my tenancy early because of coronavirus?

You can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either:

  • your contract has a break clause
  • you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord

If you want to leave as soon as possible you will probably have to negotiate. Your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave if they understand your reasons. For example, if you need to move urgently because you or a family member are sick or need support.

Moving home during the coronavirus outbreak

If you can do so safely, from 13 May 2020 it was possible to move home within England.  You must still follow public health guidance.

You should not move home if you are self-isolating. If you are at higher risk from COVID-19 due to health reasons, you should discuss the move with your GP first.

What if I need to delay a move because of coronavirus?

Do not sign a contract or agree a tenancy start date until you are sure you can move in.

Try to negotiate a new start date if you have already signed an agreement, so you do not have to start paying rent before you can move.

You may also need to negotiate with your existing landlord, or let them know if you cannot move out by a planned date.

Your current tenancy will usually continue as a periodic tenancy when your fixed term contract ends. Landlords, agents and tenants should continue to work together and show flexibility.

For further guidance and to arrange to speak to a Paperweight Caseworker, please call Paperweight on 020 8455 4996 or e-mail info@paperweight.org.uk

Can I view a new property?

Initial property searches should still be done online. Viewings in person are now allowed if they can be done safely. It’s usually a good idea to visit a rented property in person before you sign a contract.

You should not view a property in person if you are self-isolating or you have symptoms of COVID-19.

What if I don’t want viewings in my home?

Your landlord or agent cannot legally let themselves in without your permission if you rent the whole property. If there is a term in your tenancy agreement which says viewings can take place, ask your landlord to be reasonable in the circumstances.

Government guidance suggests that during viewings people who live there should go out and that the property must be thoroughly cleaned afterwards. You could argue that this is an unreasonable disturbance for a private renter.

You could offer to show the property to new tenants through a virtual viewing on your phone if you do not want people in your home before you move out.

It can be harder to prevent viewings if you rent a room in a shared house.  In a shared house or house in multiple occupation (HMO), the landlord or agent can usually access shared areas and spare bedrooms without your permission. They should still listen to your concerns and follow the Government guidance. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or if you self-isolating, physical viewings of your home should be delayed.

For further guidance and to arrange to speak to a Paperweight Caseworker, please call Paperweight on 020 8455 4996 or e-mail info@paperweight.org.uk