My income has dropped due to the Covid-19 crisis and I’m struggling financially. I rent my house from a private landlord and pay all the usual bills – electricity, water, council tax. How best can I juggle them, and is there any help I can get from the government?
If the cause of your problems is coronavirus, you should check whether you’re entitled to sick pay or to claim benefits. You can check your eligibility for both on the Citizens Advice online. If you’re already on existing benefits, these might also increase.
If you’re struggling to pay rent, talk to your landlord straightaway. You should explain the situation and ask for more time to pay, or a temporary rent reduction, or to catch up any missed payments by instalments. If you contact Citizens Advice Reigate & Banstead one of our advisers can help you explain things to your landlord. If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, it’s a good idea to pay what you can afford and keep a record of what you offered.
The government passed an emergency law which means landlords have to give you three months’ notice to end certain tenancy types from 26 March. The court service has suspended all possession action for 90 days from 27 March. This means that even if you’ve been served a notice for eviction it’s unlikely it can be enforced during this time. You can find out more about what to do if you’re being evicted for rent arrears on the Citizens Advice online.
Utilities and Council Tax
If you already claim Housing Benefit, you should tell the council your income has reduced. If you don’t claim it already, you might be entitled to help with housing costs from the government.
When it comes to utilities, you should contact the company as soon as possible. Depending on the type of bill, they may be able to arrange a payment plan. They also have schemes for people in genuine financial hardship. And you should speak to your local council about council tax – because your income has changed you might be entitled to a reduction.
If you’re struggling to pay multiple bills, it’s important to deal with ‘priority bills’ such as energy or council tax, before credit card accounts. This is because the immediate consequences of not paying for priority bills are much more serious. Citizens Advice online can also help with this.