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What happens if I can't pay my rent during COVID-19?

Find out about your rights as a tenant during the COVID-19 pandemic

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for renters, and many people have been worried about losing their home or paying rent during the pandemic. 

A number of measures have been introduced over the last number of months to introduce new rules around renting during COVID-19. In August 2020, rental laws were introduced to protect those who have lost income due to COVID-19 and have fallen into arrears on their rent (late with making payments) and are at risk of losing their tenancy.

What are the rent rules during COVID-19?

Find out your rights as a tenant and what to do if you can't pay your rent.

Do I have to pay my rent during COVID-19?

Tenants still have to pay their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you're having trouble paying your rent, you can look into the COVID-19 Rent Supplement.

What happens if I can't pay my rent during COVID-19?

If you cannot pay your rent it is best to be honest with your landlord and to contact them as soon as possible so that you can organise a solution together. If you are anxious or unsure about how to talk to your landlord there are supports that can help. Contact Threshold and they can offer you advice on the best ways to communicate with your landlord during the pandemic.

If you fail to pay your rent in full when it's due, you could be at risk of losing your tenancy. If this happens, the following process must be followed:

  • You must be given written notice that you are in arrears (have not paid your rent)
  • If after 28 days, you have not paid the rent to your landlord, you may be given a minimum of 28 days written notice of termination

If you're having trouble paying your rent, you can look into the COVID-19 Rent Supplement.

Can I be evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If a landlord wants you to leave your accommodation, they must provide a notice of termination (90 days). If restrictions are put in place preventing people from going 5km beyond their home (such as a Level 5 lockdown), an eviction ban will automatically apply, which prevents landlords from evicting tenants. When those restrictions end, there is a 10 day grace period before a landlord can evict a tenant. 

If you have been given an eviction notice, the notice will be paused while Level 5 restrictions are in place, and for 10 days after those restrictions are lifted. The time spent in Level 5 and the 10 day grace period are not counted towards the number of days you have left to leave. 

Exceptions to the temporary ban on evictions includes:

  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Your actions in the property would invalidate a house insurance policy
  • Your actions in the property would cause substantial damage to the accommodation
  • You are using the accommodation for commercial reasons, or other non-residential purposes

Can my rent be increased during COVID-19?

At the beginning of the pandemic, rent increases had been paused. However, since 2nd August 2020, landlords have been able to increase the rent for tenants who have not been financially impacted by COVID-19, but the increase must be within regular rules and guidelines. The rent increase cannot be backdated. 

If you have been financially impacted by COVID-19, then you may be able to avoid having your rent increased before 13th April 2021. You may qualify for this if you meet the following criteria:

Visit for more information on your rights as a renter. 

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the pandemic?

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Published April 30th2020
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