Paying your rent
In response to Covid-19, the Housing and Neighbourhood Services Team will support our tenants to the best extent we can during the Coronavirus crisis and are committed to providing necessary advice and support in sustaining your tenancy at this challenging time. We can help with
- Benefit claims
- Maximising income
- Additional tenancy support
Your tenancy agreement states that rent is payable in advance, every Monday, regardless of the type of tenancy you have. You can choose to pay monthly, weekly, fortnightly or 4-weekly, though whatever the frequency, payments must be made in advance and on time. Rent not paid on time or in arrears is a debt, and although we are aware that some households may have their income reduced the rent due on your property will not change as a result of the current Coronavirus situation.
During the crisis we will continue to charge weekly rent and the rent increase scheduled to commence on 5th April 2021 will still take place.
The easiest way to pay your rent is to set up a direct debit, or you can make payments online with a credit or debit card.
It is likely that a large number of households will have their income protected during the crisis, if you are still receiving at least 80% of your usual income then the expectation is that you will be able to maintain your rent payments given that other household expenditure is likely to have reduced during the stay at home period.
However, we also appreciate that a number of households will find that their employment status and income are affected by the impact of the Coronavirus crisis, leading to some tenants facing uncertainty, money worries, financial hardship, and therefore potential issues maintaining rent payments. We will do what we can to support tenants at this challenging time and our work will move away from taking enforcement action to providing enhanced levels of support and advice. However, where tenants do not engage with our support or advice services then we may still need to serve a Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) in line with the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Central Government announced protection from eviction for renters during the Covid-19 crisis and accordingly the courts have postponed existing possession hearing and warrants. In order to start possession proceedings for a breach of tenancy, such as non-payment of rent, we would initially have to serve a NOSP. Normally, the notice period in the NOSP would be four weeks but this has been extended to three months in line with the act. A recent extension has been granted for bailiff evictions, which means that in all but the most serious cases, bailiff evictions are banned until 31st March 2021.
If you are concerned about maintaining rent payments and/or falling into rent arrears, please call on 01932 838383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Area Housing Managers are available to offer help and support, and will work with you on payment of rent debt if you fall into arrears. They will be able to offer advice regarding debt, help with benefits, assess your income and expenditure to help you manage your spending and agree the best way forward in managing your rent account and sustaining your tenancy.
If you need in depth, specialist advice and support, it may be possible for the Area Housing Managers to refer you to our Tenant Support Officer for additional support during this challenging time.
Our Area Housing Managers and Tenant Support Officer will help to assist you as best they can if you are in financial hardship and impacted by Coronavirus. However, it is important that paying your rent is your top financial priority.
You can call on 01932 838383 or email email@example.com to find out more.
The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can assist, support and advise you. We are here to help.
Universal Credit and other benefits
If your income has changed and you are struggling to pay your rent, you may be eligible to claim Universal Credit, Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit to help with housing costs.
With the impact of Coronavirus, there is likely to be an increased need for help from benefits. For more information about claiming benefits and the Coronavirus, please visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
Universal Credit is paid one month in arrears, in a similar pattern to most jobs in the UK, for more information please visit the UK Government's Universal Credit website. If you get a housing costs element paid to you as part of your Universal Credit claim, you must use this to pay your rent and if you don't get full housing costs you will also need to top up payment towards your rent from your remaining income. If you get no housing costs paid this may be because your income is too high and you will be expected to pay rent from your other income streams.
Universal Credit payments are paid in arrears and there is a waiting period at the start of your claim. We can assist you with money and budgeting advice but you can also use online tools to help you budget and manage Universal Credit payments, such as The Money Advice Service This budgeting tool.
If you are worried about how you will manage in the initial waiting period for Universal Credit, you can apply for an advance which will help you to buy essential items, such as food, and pay your rent. The advance must be repaid. Talk to your workcoach or Universal Credit service centre about getting an advance payment.
Statutory sick pay and self-employed workers
With the impact of Coronavirus, the government are offering support to self-employed and gig economy workers (people on short term contracts) who will be able to apply for Universal Credit or new style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to help with finances. Self-employed and gig economy workers would not normally be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
The government has also introduced several temporary measures to help workers who have to take time off work to self-isolate. Statutory Sick Pay will be available to all employed workers form the day of self-isolation.
Self-employed workers may also be able to get a grant to protect their income through the self-employed income support scheme https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
If you think you may be eligible for Housing Benefit, see the Housing Benefit page for more information, or contact 01932 838383 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice.
Garage rent and payments
During the Coronavirus crisis we will continue to charge our weekly garage rents and the rent increase scheduled to commence on 5th April 2021 will still take place.
Garages are a non-essential item and if you cannot afford to maintain payments against your garage you may need to consider terminating the licence agreement. If you wish to terminate the licence you will need to give seven days notice in writing.
Under normal circumstances we would not make repayment arrangements for garages, we expect payments to be maintained in full and in advance. However, in this unprecedented period we appreciate we may need to offer some flexibility with this.
We appreciate that our garages are used by licence holders for a number of reasons, for example some licence holders may use a garage to store tools or materials relating to self-employed work. If you fall into arrears and cannot maintain garage payments then we will look at requests to set up repayment arrangements on a case by case basis. We will ask questions about your circumstances, budget and the purpose you rent the garage for, we may also ask to see evidence of your financial position. Please contact us on 01932 838383 or email on email@example.com.
How to pay your rent
You can set up a direct debit by completing our online form. You will need your rent reference number.
Make your rent payment online. You will also need your rent reference number for this. Payments can take up to two working days to show on your account.
Post Office or shops with Pay Point
You can use your white rent 'swipe card' to pay at any UK Post Office or shop that advertises Pay Point. Payments can take up to five working days to show on your account.
Please contact your Area Housing Manager if you require a new swipe card.
To pay by phone you can call our auto-payment service which is available 24/7 on 01932 425030. Alternatively call customer services on 01932 838383. Please ensure you have your rent reference number and credit or debit card to hand. Payments can take up to two working days to show on your account.
You may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment if you are in financial hardship.
The UK Housing Charity Shelter has advice pages on requesting a Discretionary Housing Payment and requesting an advance on a Universal Credit payment.