My Home – What are my rights?

I am a tenant and I am struggling to pay my rent at the moment

We would suggest that you speak to your landlord as early as possible and explain your current circumstances. If you had to self-isolate or are currently on Furlough, then letting your landlord know and putting practical arrangements in place as soon as possible will generally be the best first step.

At the moment, the Government has announced that they are bringing emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private and rented accommodation whilst the Coronavirus emergency is taking place. This would therefore cover council houses, housing associations and private landlords. This protection effectively lasts for three months. There is, however, no obligation on landlords to give tenants a rent holiday or to reduce their rent payment for this period, they just won’t be able to evict you straightaway if you cannot pay it. Again, we would suggest having a conversation with your landlord as soon as you are aware that you may have difficulty in paying the rent.

Please note, if you are already subject to re-possession proceedings, then they will proceed as normal, they will not be subject to this new legislation. In truth, however, the Courts are not functioning at this point in time and that will therefore have an impact on their ability to hear these cases.

I own my own home but have a mortgage, can I take a break from paying it?

The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) has issued guidance to mortgage lenders about how they expect them to act during the Coronavirus period.

The basis of this support is to allow you to request a mortgage payment holiday from your mortgage provider. You must request it, don’t just stop paying it. You should only do this if you are experiencing or reasonably expect to experience difficulties in making the payments due to circumstances related to Coronavirus but please note this is a payment holiday; interest will still accumulate and any break in payments will need to be made back up during the life of your mortgage period. The cost of this payment holiday could be quite substantial when added to your mortgage over the life of its term and you should think very carefully before requesting a payment holiday.

A payment holiday can be for any period for up to three months and it should not have a negative impact on your credit rating. The problem many people are facing at the moment is getting in touch with their mortgage lender due to the overwhelming demand they are receiving for requests for payment holidays and also, these lenders tend to be the same people that the Government is utilising to support business and so they are also extremely busy. If you do need a mortgage holiday, then persist but we would reiterate our guidance that you should only take this if you really need it as the cost over the lifetime of the mortgage could be quite high. You should ask your lender what that cost is before you decide whether to take a mortgage payment holiday.

I own a home but it is already being re-possessed

The FCA has stated that it does not believe anybody should be at risk of losing their homes whilst the Coronavirus situation remains. This should mean that if you are currently facing re-possession proceedings, those proceedings are stalled and will not progress any further for the time being. If you believe that it is in your best interests for the property to be re-possessed, for example, you have already arranged to move to alternative accommodation, then you should inform your lender that you wish them to carry on with the re-possession proceedings as otherwise, they will not. If re-possession is stalled, interest will still continue to accumulate and it does mean that the amount you owe will therefore increase and of course, your property could go down in value over this period which could mean that you end up getting less back or nothing back at all or might even owe sums over and above what has been realised from the re-possession. It is important, therefore, if you wish the re-possession to carry on, that you let your lender know this.

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