Does my private hall have to release me from my tenancy?
No. Private halls are not currently legally required to release you from your contract. Private accommodation providers have different approaches. A small number of private halls in the city have agreed to terminate fixed term contracts early. We recommend contacting your provider directly in writing for clarification of their procedure.
Can I leave my tenancy with a private landlord early because of coronavirus?
You can leave your contract early if:
- Your contract has a break clause
- You negotiate an early end date with your landlord
If you want to leave as soon as possible you'll 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. See a suggested letter format to send to your landlord.
I'm worried about rent arrears. What should I do?
The student funding team can provide financial advice and guidance, contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must speak to your landlord if you're struggling to pay rent. They could be sympathetic if you've lost your job or seen your income reduce suddenly. They might agree to a rent reduction or to accept rent late. Get any agreement in writing.
Buy-to-let landlords may get mortgage payment holidays if their tenants have financial problems due to coronavirus. Your landlord's mortgage payments will normally increase after a payment holiday.
Moving home during the coronavirus outbreak
From 13 May 2020 you can move home within England if you can do so safely.
You must still follow public health guidance. You should not move home if you're self-isolating.
If you're at higher risk from coronavirus due to health reasons, discuss the move with your GP first. See GOV.UK for full guidance on moving home during the outbreak
What if I need to delay a move because of coronavirus?
Don't sign a contract or agree a tenancy start date until you're sure you can move in.
Try to negotiate a new start date if you've already signed an agreement, so you don't 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 can't move out by a planned date.
Your current tenancy will usually continue as a periodic tenancy if your fixed term contract ends as long as you still live there.
Landlords, agents and tenants will need to work together and show goodwill in order to comply with the public health guidance over the coming weeks.
Can I view a new property?
Viewings in person are now allowed if they can be done safely. Initial property searches should still be done online.
It's usually a good idea to visit a rented property in person before you sign a contract.
You shouldn't view a property in person if you're self-isolating. See detailed government guidance on GOV.UK
What if I don't want viewings in my home?
Your landlord or agent can't legally let themselves in without your permission if you rent the whole property.
If there's 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 don't 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 agree to let people view your home, it’s best to:
- leave the inside doors open so people don’t have to touch them
- leave your home during the viewing
- clean any surfaces people might have touched after the viewing and wash your hands with soap.
Advice on signing contracts and future contractual obligations
If you have already signed a contract for next year, it is likely that this will still stand and you will still be expected to pay rent as per the contractual obligations. If you have any concerns about a future contract, you should discuss them directly with your landlord or accommodation provider.
If you are not happy to sign a contract, don't. Contracts are legally binding documents and it is important you fully understand what you are committing to. You could try to negotiate a period of time (for example a month) with the landlord, where they will hold the accommodation whilst you work out what to do.
Some private accommodation providers are offering, students who have not already entered into contracts, a promise of flexibility. All of the private providers in the city are operating different policies so you will need to check arrangements with each individual operator. It is important to get any agreements in writing so that you have a record of what was agreed.
Please note, it is recommended you keep up to date with the latest Government advice as all guidance is subject to change.
Can my landlord evict me straight away because of coronavirus?
It's illegal for your landlord to evict you without following the proper steps.
Illegal eviction is a criminal offence - coronavirus doesn't change this.
It's likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:
- makes you leave without notice or a court order
- locks you out of your home, even temporarily.
You can get help from the council or the court if your landlord prevents you accessing your home.
If you are at risk of eviction, email email@example.com for advice.
What if I've had notice from my landlord?
You should stay in your home.
Evictions take time and you don't have to leave at the end of your notice.
Most tenants who get a notice between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 will be entitled to three months' notice before their landlord can apply to court.
- private tenants who get a section 21 or a section 8
- secure, introductory and flexible council tenants
- housing association tenants
- regulated tenants.
Right to rent immigration checks
What is the right to rent?
Before renting out a room or a property, private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of:
- the tenant or lodger
- any other adults who will be living there.
They don't have to check the status of children under 18, or guests who stay in your home but don't pay rent.
The checks only apply to agreements that started on or after 1 February 2016.
In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, Home Office guidance states landlords can accept scanned copies or photos of original documents for right to rent checks during the coronavirus outbreak.
Landlords will need to carry out full checks on original documents within eight weeks of emergency coronavirus measures ending.
If you still have a housing query, you can get further advice and guidance from the University's housing adviser by email: firstname.lastname@example.org