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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Coronavirus advice for NIHE and housing association tenants

Talk to your landlord if you have any concerns about your housing as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Your landlord will probably have closed its public offices, so you will need to contact them online or by telephone.

Your landlord’s contact details

Visit the NIFHA website for links to housing association websites.

Contact the Housing Executive on 03448 920 900 or online. The Housing Executive has up to date information about how its services are affected by the Coronavirus crisis on its website.

Most Housing Executive offices are closed, but a number have reopened for appointments. You can only visit these offices if you have a prearranged appointment. Appointments will only be offered if an issue must be dealt with in-person.

Paying your rent

Speak to your landlord if you are worried about paying rent because your income has been affected by the coronavirus crisis. Let the landlord know of any change in circumstances and ask if they have any measures in place to help tenants who are affected by this crisis.

You may be able to get help to pay your rent and rates. Get advice if you are worried about paying rent at this time.

Can you claim benefits to help?

You may be able to get benefits to help with your rent and other living costs if your income has reduced.

Most people will have to claim Universal Credit to get help with rent. If you are over pension age you can claim Housing Benefit. Get advice if you aren’t sure which to claim.

You claim Universal Credit online.  When you claim, you can ask for an advance payment and you should also apply for a payment from the Universal Credit contingency fund. The advance must be paid back, but you don’t have to pay back the contingency fund payment.  Universal Credit will include money to help with your household living costs, as well as your rent.

Benefits to pay rates

If you are already claiming Housing Benefit, this will include help with your rates.

Universal Credit won’t help with rates. Instead, you have to apply for a rates rebate. This is a different online claim system. You need to set up an account and put in details about your landlord and your property. If you’re having problems setting up your claim, call 0300 200 7802. Get advice if you aren't sure how to claim help with rates. 

Getting other benefits

Universal Credit or Housing Benefit can help with rent, but you might also be able to get benefits to help with your living costs. Contact Make the Call to find out about the different benefits you can apply for. 

You may also be entitled to a grant or an interest-free loan if you are in financial difficulties because of this crisis. Call Finance Support on 0800 587 2750 to apply for extra help.

Eviction

Social landlords have promised not to evict people who are struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus. They may try to evict you if

  • you've been accused of antisocial behaviour or
  • you owe rent from before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Your landlord has to take you to court to evict you. 

Get advice if your landlord says you have to go to court or that you have to leave your home. 

Repairs

It can take longer than usual to get repairs sorted out. Contractors have to work according to the latest guidelines and landlords have a big backlog of repairs to deal with because of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Keep a record of when you reported any problems in your home and any updates your landlord has given you about when the repairs will be done. 

Get advice if you need repairs carried out and your landlord has refused to deal with these.

Transfers, waiting lists and other issues

The Housing Executive and housing associations are offering properties to people on the waiting list. You can still talk to your housing officer about offers and points. It might take a little longer than usual to get a reply from your housing officer because a lot of people are still working from home. 

You may be offered a property if you are on the waiting list. Get advice if you are not able to view the property because you are isolating. The landlord should hold the property until you are able to see it, but they can't hold it for a very long time.

Get advice if you have an urgent problem and can’t get help to deal with it.

Staying safe

Make sure you check the Public Health Agency website for up to date information and advice on the virus and what to do if you think you may have it.

Read the advice on how to keep your distance from others if you have any symptoms or think you may have the virus. Remember to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people and to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.