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
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.
Housing Executive rents were supposed to increase on 6th April 2020, but this increase has now been put back until October 2020.
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 or you are getting certain disability benefits, 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
Getting other benefits
Universal Credit or Housing Benefit can help with rent, but you may also be entitled to help with your living costs. Contact Make the Call to find out about the different benefits you are entitled to if you aren't sure what you can claim.
Social landlords should be sensitive to any person who is facing eviction at this time and have promised not to evict people who are struggling to pay rent because of coronavirus.
Your landlord has to take you to court to evict you. If you were supposed to go to court about a possession hearing, get advice. It is very likely that this hearing has been cancelled.
Get advice if your landlord tells you that you have to move out of your home during this pandemic.
Landlords would only deal with emergency repairs for the first four months of the pandemic. From late July 2020, landlords have started to deal with non-emergency repairs inside people's homes, but there is a big backlog of work to be done. Landlords are working through this backlog and are prioritising the most serious issues and those which were reported longest ago.
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 continuing to offer properties and can still deal with queries about points and transfers. However, with many staff working from home it may be more difficult than it usually is to get through by telephone and there may be staff shortages as people become ill or have to isolate. You may need to be patient if you are waiting for a response to a query or complaint.
You may be offered a property if you are on the waiting list. You don't have to accept or refuse this property until you've been able to view it. The landlord should hold the offer for you until it is safe for you to view the property and decide if you can take it or not. The landlord may decide to cancel the offer if the property is ready to occupy, but you have to wait an unreasonably long time before you can go to see it because you have health issues or are shielding, but in most cases the offer will be held for you.
Get advice if you have an urgent problem and can’t get help to deal with it.
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.