When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Coronavirus information March 2020

We've already been contacted by people who are worried about how quarantine restrictions will impact on their ability to pay their rent or mortgage. You may be able to claim benefits to help pay your rent if the outbreak of Covid-19, or Coronavirus, means you are not able to work. 

Keep your landlord or lender updated if you've got any concerns about making payments or managing your home. 

Stay home

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.

The country is now in lockdown. It is essential that you stay at home. Read the government’s advice to find out under what circumstances you can leave your home.

Read the advice on how to self-isolate. Remember to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people and to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Talk to your landlord

Talk to your landlord if you have any concerns about how Coronavirus will impact on your tenancy. 

If you are a Housing Executive tenant, keep an eye on their website, Facebook and Twitter for updates on any impact on their service and of any plans in place to help tenants who are struggling as a result of Coronavirus. 

Housing association tenants should check their landlord's website and social media channels for updates. You can find contact details for housing associations on the NIFHA website. 

Let your landlord know that you may have difficulty paying rent and ask what steps they are taking to help tenants at this time. 

Private tenants should notify their landlord by phone, email or messaging service to let them know of any concerns. 

Paying rent

Check if you can apply for benefits to help pay your rent. The government has announced changes to make sure that people who aren't entitled to sick pay, such as those who are self-employed or who work on short-term contracts can apply for benefits if they aren't able to work because they are sick or self-isolating. You won't have to provide a sick note in order to get this help.

Contact Make The Call for advice on applying for benefits. 

Paying a mortgage

There have been no changes to benefit laws to help people with mortgage payments when they aren't able to work due to quarantine or sickness. However, some banks have announced that they will defer mortgage payments for people who are affected. 

Speak to your lender or check the lender's website if you are worried about missing mortgage payments. Ask what changes they have made to help customers affected by the virus.

Already claiming benefits?

The government has made some temporary changes to the way that benefits work to try to help people who have to stay in their homes because they are sick or are self-isolating to prevent the possible spread of the virus. You shouldn't be penalised because you've had to stay at home to stop the possible spread of the virus.

You need to let your Jobs and Benefits Office, service centre of Universal Credit work coach know about your situation as soon as you can if you have had to stay at home because you 

  • you have tested positive for Coronavirus
  • you are self-isolating because you have a cough or other signs of infection or
  • you are looking after a child or children who have tested positive for Coronavirus or who are in isolation to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Housing Executive closures

The Housing Executive has announced that it will be closing its public offices. You can still get in touch by telephone. NIHE has also restricted its repair service and will now only deal with emergency repairs. This means an issue like a gas leak, electrical fittings in contact with water, sewage overflowing, securing outside doors, failure of all power. Keep an eye on the Housing Executive's website for updates on how they are dealing with this outbreak.

Getting advice

Speak to an adviser if you are concerned about how to manage your rent or mortgage payments because of Coronavirus restrictions.