COVID-19: Advice for Tenants
We’ve adapted the way we are working during this crisis. We can still arrange emergency maintenance were required, however the government advice is to suspend routine safety certificate renewals until the restrictions are lifted. If you’re a tenant and are worried about how Coronavirus has changed your own circumstances please get in touch with us as soon as possible. We’re all absolutely focused on helping our landlords and tenants however we can and we’re just on the end of an email, phone call or video call.
Here’s a summary of support announced by the Government to help tenants with financial concerns:
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If anyone has symptoms of Coronavirus, they must stay at home and not leave for 7 days. For people living with someone with symptoms they can’t leave the house for 14 days. For both of these groups SSP is payable at £94.25 a week and is paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks. Legislation is due to be passed so that SSP is payable from day 1 instead of day 4. Normally those applying for SSP need to go in person to a GP to get a ‘sick note’, but this has been relaxed so an ‘isolation note’ can be arranged through NHS 111 over the phone.
People affected by Coronavirus who are worried about paying rent can claim Universal Credit from the Dept of Work and Pensions, which includes support for housing costs for those eligible – the government has made some temporary changes to make this more streamlined. If a tenant is getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can’t afford their rent, they may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Tenants may be able to get support through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Self-employed people will also be able to claim Universal Credit.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If employers can’t cover staff costs due to Coronavirus they may be able to change an employee’s status to ‘Furloughed Employee’ to enable up to 80% of their salary (£2,500/month cap) to be paid under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This means that an employee would be kept on an employer’s payroll rather than being laid off. The employer can decide whether to fund the difference between the payment and an employee’s full salary.
Support for Self-employed
For the self-employed, the Government has created a grant equal to 80% of a self-employed persons profits, for 3 months. This applies to those earning less than £50,000 a year, looks at an average of the last 3 years accounts (if available) and is up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (subject to tax).
Updated Eviction Legislation passed by Scottish Government
The Scottish Government has passed legislation to temporarily change the minimal period for compulsory tenant eviction for rent arrears from 3 to 6 months to ensure no tenant finds themselves homeless in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. Also, if the reason for non-payment of rent is due to a delay in a tenant receiving benefits including housing benefit or Universal Credit, a tenant can’t be evicted.