ARE YOU HOMELESS, SOFA SURFING OR AT RISK?

Facing Homelessness during coronavirus?

This is an extremely challenging and unsettling time for everybody, but it is especially difficult for vulnerable young people. If you are homeless or facing the risk of being homeless during this difficult period, we have answered some of your most pressing questions below. Of course, if your question has not been answered here, or you need further assistance, please call our helpline on 0808 800 0661 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

I’m facing homelessness, what can I do?

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness within the next 56 days, the first people to get in touch with are the housing team at your local council

This is still the case during the Coronavirus outbreak but there may be some changes to how councils are operating (see below).

If you are unsure which council you fall under you can enter your postcode here, and check what counts as a local connection to a council here. If you are struggling to find the contact details for the Housing Team, our Helpline can help you with this. 

What if my local council isn’t seeing people face-to-face?

Some councils are no longer seeing people face-to-face as a protective measure, so call your council’s housing team first before going to their offices.

You should not be refused a homelessness assessment due to Coronavirus. If you are unable to go to the council in person, you can ask for a phone assessment to take place.

If you are homeless, eligible, and in priority need, you are still entitled to immediate emergency accommodation.

Although you are entitled to a homelessness assessment, if you are at risk of homelessness within the next 56 days but you have relatively stable accommodation you may be asked to wait a few weeks before your assessment can be completed. 

Some support at this time may be more limited and councils may have fewer options, but you are still entitled to their help. The way governments are responding to this crisis continues to change, so it’s worth trying to keep up to date if you can to see what support is being put in place.

Each council has an emergency out of hours number - please call this if you are facing homelessness and it is after 5pm or the weekend. Again, our Helpline team can provide you with this. 

The Helpline can also advise you if there are any other local services where you might be able to get some support. Details around these are changing daily with some having to temporarily close, but we will try and give you the most up to date information we have. 

I’m having difficulties paying my rent

Get in touch with your landlord if you are struggling with paying your rent. Your landlord may be understanding and willing to be flexible if you’ve experienced a change or loss of income. They may work with you to find a way to help you stay in the property, such as offering a temporary rent decrease or accepting a late payment.

It is really important that you get this agreement in writing (that could mean a letter or an email). Keep this safe! You might want to make a new folder in your email inbox, or put letters in a safe spot at home – make a note in your phone and take a picture so that you don’t forget where they are.

Buy-to-let* landlords might be able to get mortgage holidays if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to coronavirus, so this might provide both you and your landlord with a bit of a safety net as you figure out your next steps together. 

*A buy-to-let landlord is someone who buys a property to rent out to tenants, so if you’re renting your landlord should fall into this category. 

My landlord has asked me to leave - what now?

There are proper steps that a landlord must take to evict you. It’s illegal for them not to do this. 

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence - regardless of the situation. Coronavirus does not mean that these rules are forgotten. 

How will I know if it is an illegal eviction? 

It is likely that your landlord is evicting you illegally if: 

  • They have tried to make you leave with no written notice or prior warning.
  • They have locked you out of your home/changed the locks.

If you think you might have been evicted illegally, there are some steps you may wish to take: 

  • Speak to Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau for some free advice - they can help you identify if you are being evicted illegally.
  • Ask the council for help by speaking to the tenancy relations officer or housing team. 

To evict you, your landlord would usually need to start court proceedings. However, on 18 March the Government announced that landlords would not be able to apply to the courts to do this for at least three months. This should provide additional protection for tenants, as your landlord will not be able to begin proceedings to evict you legally. 

If you are a lodger, your landlord does not need to apply to the courts, but should provide you with reasonable written notice. You can read a bit more about your rights as a lodger here

The helpline team are here to help answer any questions that you may have, and if we don’t have the answers we’ll do our best to help you find them. So if any of this raises any further questions, please give us a call on 0808 800 0661 or talk to us on Webchat.

My mental health is suffering because of Coronavirus

An outbreak of an infectious disease like Coronavirus can be scary, and it can directly affect our mental health. You may feel anxious and worried about what's happening, and how it will affect your life. You may feel particularly anxious about how coronavirus will affect your housing situation if you don't have anywhere stable to live. That's why it's really important that you take care of yourself during this time, and reach out for support when you need it. If you need to talk to someone about how you're feeling, you can speak to the follow mental health support services for young people:

The Mix: Mental Health support and signposting for 13-25s. Call them on 0808 808 4994 or you can use their webchat service which you can find on their website themix.org.uk.

Shout: This is a text service which is free on all major mobile networks. They provide support if you're struggling to cope with how you're feeling. You can text 'Shout' to 85258.

Mind: This service provides support around mental health problems and where you can get help. Call their info line on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans: If you feel in crisis or you just want someone to listen to how you're feeling, you can also call Samaritans on 116 123