Housing measures (COVID-19)

Universal Credit may unlock other forms of support such as a reduction in your council tax, although it will depend on your circumstances and where you live as each local authority has its own rules.

Apply to your local council for a Local Council Tax Reduction as soon as you make a claim for Universal Credit. You do not need to wait until your claim has been approved or paid. This is important as many councils will not backdate the reduction.

If you are renting in the private sector and apply for Universal Credit, Local Housing Allowance is used to calculate the contribution that will be made towards your rent. This has been increased to 30% of the market rent in your local area.

Renters

If you are struggling to pay your rent talk to your landlord. The government’s three-month mortgage holiday payment extends to buy-to-let landlords. Landlords are being encouraged to pass the benefit they get from any payment holiday onto their tenants.

The government is passing emergency legislation to protect tenants from eviction. For three months, landlords will be barred from beginning court proceedings to evict tenants. This does not however stop landlords from informing tenants of their intention to evict them from late June and the government is under pressure to review this.

Homeowners

If you are a homeowner and struggling to pay your mortgage, you can apply to your lender for a three-month mortgage holiday. You do not have to have contracted coronavirus to apply as the scheme is designed to support anyone who is concerned about their ability to meet their mortgage payments. If you can continue to pay your mortgage you should since taking the payment holiday will cost you slightly more in interest and it will take you longer to pay off your mortgage. You will only be eligible if you are up to date with your mortgage payments and will need to confirm that your income has been directly or indirectly affected by coronavirus.

A payment holiday might not be your only option, so you should talk to your lender to see whether you have other options such as extending the length of your mortgage (thereby reducing your monthly payments) or moving your mortgage to interest-only payments for a period.

More housing advice from Shelter

Advice from Housing Advice Northern Ireland