ARC Guide to Corona Virus - Housing

We understand that many of you will be concerned about your private rented accommodation and your rent liability.        

 

Unfortunately, the answer is not a one size fits all approach and is very much dependant on what contract has been signed and whether your Landlord/Agent is willing to be helpful and use discretion.

 

Can I leave my tenancy early because of coronavirus?

 

This depends entirely on what Contract has been signed and whether the Landlord/Agent are willing to use discretion and/or negotiate.

 

You can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either:

 

  • your contract has a break clause
  • you negotiate an early end to the agreement 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.

 

Eviction

 

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.

 

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 3 months' notice before their landlord can apply to court.

 

 

 

 

This includes:

  • private tenants who get a section 21 or a section 8
  • secure, introductory and flexible council tenants
  • housing association tenants
  • regulated tenants

Housing Advice

 

Shelter are the experts in housing law, they have some useful resources:

 

https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/helpline

 

Government Financial Support

 

  • Job Retention Scheme

Please see our ARC Guide to the Job Retention Scheme.

 

  • On 26 March 2020 the Government introduced a Job Retention Scheme to support businesses’ and you as an employee.
  • The online service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. We expect it to be available by the end of April 2020.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed you’ (you on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs,
  • up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage.
  • Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

 

University and Union Financial Support

 

The Union and University know this is a tough time for everyone and have Hardship Funds Available, please find details below:

 

  • University Hardship Fund

 

The University Hardship Fund is a non-repayable discretionary fund, to assist students who experience unexpected financial difficulty during the course of their studies.

 

All applicants are means-tested and not all applications will result in an award. The Fund is intended to act as a 'safety net' rather than a source of income.

 

It cannot be used to assist with Tuition Fees, with the exception of some targeted help for part-time undergraduate studies (Additional Fee Support Scheme).

 

 

 

 

Who can apply?

 

You are eligible to make an application if:

 

You are classed as a ‘Home’ student for fee purposes. This means you are settled in the UK or Islands within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 [not subject under immigration law to any restriction on length of stay] and you have been ‘ordinarily’ resident in the UK or Islands wholly or mainly for purposes other than receiving full time education, for 3 years prior to the first day of your course.

 

AND

You are a full-time, sandwich, or a part-time student studying at least 50% of a full-time course. If you are a disabled student, who due to the nature of your disability is unable to study 50%, you may apply for help from the University Hardship Fund if you are studying at least 25% of a full-time course.

 

AND

If you are an UNDERGRADUATE student eligible for statutory support, you must have applied for your maximum means tested (income assessed) student funding entitlement (e.g. Tuition Fee and Maintenance funding) and have received the first instalment.

 

If you are an INTERNATIONAL, EU, POSTGRADUATE or SELF-FUNDING student you must be able to demonstrate that you made realistic financial provision to fund both your tuition fees and accommodation/living/course costs, before commencing your studies. The Fund is intended to help in times of unexpected need, not as a main source of support. This rule also applies to applicants undertaking other self-funding courses, such as Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE) and any Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQ).

 

 

  • University Hardship Fund – Corona Virus related application

The University has slight made the fund available to enable students to apply if they have encountered financial hardship as a result of the Corona Virus:

 

  • Students that do not have £500 in their accounts can apply by emailing Funding@brunel.ac.uk  with  a personal statement detailing specifically how the funding for their course has been impacted by the coronavirus and 2 months bank statements for all bank accounts and student funding breakdown.
  • Deadline is by 10am on 6th of April 2020.
  • A max award of £500 per student.

 

  • Union of Brunel Students Hardship Fund

 

The Union Hardship Fund is supported by an annual contribution from the Brunel University Alumni.  It exists to assist students who are facing acute financial difficulty in meeting their basic living costs (excluding tuition fees). The request for hardship assistance would be for unexpected and unavoidable expenditure. The fund is not intended to assist students with prolonged funding support, but merely with temporary, short-term financial emergency. Our aim is to make a discernible difference in students’ lives and, if possible, assist them with remaining on their course.

 

 

 

  • The fund is discretionary and there is no automatic entitlement.
  • Applications are taken on a strictly first come first served basis. When the fund has been exhausted no further applications will be accepted. Students’ applications are numbered to ensure they are assessed in the order received.
  • Applicants must provide evidence of unexpected and unavoidable financial hardship
  • The maximum award is £500. This amount would only be issued in exceptional and well evidenced circumstances. Students will be not able to receive more than £1000 over the entire period of registration.

Please complete the online enquiry and ask for the form and guidance if you would like to apply.

 

https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/MJ62b3cbofS9anZ3c

 

 

Other benefits and financial aids

 

  • Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly.

 

You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income or out of work.

 

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

 

Generally, students are not eligible for Universal Credit, but you may be eligible if you have been impacted by the Corona Virus, you can apply below:

 

https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

 

  • Turn2Us

Turn2us is a national charity helping people when times get tough. They provide financial support to help people get back on track.

 

You can check what benefits you may be eligible for and you can also search for Grants:

 

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/get-support/Benefits-and-Coronavirus-Sickness

 

  • Shelter

For more complex housing issues you may need to seek advice for the Housing Experts, Shelter:

 

 

  • Money Advice Service

Free and impartial money advice, set up by government: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en

 

 

  • Money Saving Expert

 

Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights - Sick pay, mortgages, rental help, train refunds, energy top-ups & more. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/

 

Contract Checks

 

The ARC Manager is happy to check any Tenancy Contract if students are unsure on their rights or what they have signed. Contracts can be emailed to Ruth directly. Ruth.sharma@brunel.ac.uk