I am a single parent currently living in a privately rented property with my two children. I was working and paying my rent. Because of Coronavirus I have lost my job. I am applying for benefits but know this will take a while before I start receiving any payments. I am worried that I will not be able to pay my rent until I am receiving benefits.
I am worried that me and my children will be made homeless, please can you advise me if my landlord can evict me because of this and what I can do?
Failure to pay your rent can amount to a breach of tenancy which is enough for your landlord to serve a notice seeking possession and if you do not leave by the end of the notice period, subsequently begin possession proceeding to evict you.
However, in light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic the government drafted emergency legislation which came into force on Friday 27th March 2020 to deal with evictions and possession claims.
Essentially the new emergency law will prevent landlords from starting proceedings to evict tenants for 3 months. This does not stop your landlord serving you with a notice seeking possession but under the new legislation it must give you 3 months’ notice. There is also the power for the notices to be extended beyond the default 3 months.
It is likely you have an assured shorthold tenancy, but in any case this new legislation will cover most common social housing and private landlord tenancies including, secure tenancies, assured tenancies, assured shorthold tenancies and flexible tenancies along with others.
Please note however that any notice served before the 27th March 2020 is still valid.
In addition, it has been announced that as an administrative measure any ongoing possession claims are to be suspended for 90 days, and that period may be extended. This measure will protect private and social renters, as well as those with mortgages. It will not cover lodgers, homeless applicants housed under certain licences and some people where accommodation is part of their employment. Full details have not yet been published.
At this stage it is difficult for us to know what approach the court will take when they are back to being fully operational but hopefully over the coming weeks that will become clearer.
There is new guidance being distributed daily and so we advise you to keep up to date with this or call our office on 0191 565 3112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information should your landlord try to take steps to evict you.
By Andrea Sellers, Partner