COVID-19 and housing

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discovolante
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COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:18 pm

Sorry to bang this drum in a separate thread, but meh.

Just wanted to flag a few housing/homelessness specific things. The links below are fairly Scotland-centric but not all, and anyway Scotland has coronavirus and it's also worth the different parts of the UK seeing what other bits are doing, and so on.

Firstly there are advice pages from Shelter for England, Scotland and Wales for coronavirus (other charities are available). Share them far and wide!

Scotland: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_adv ... s_COVID_19
England: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_ ... oronavirus
Wales: https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/coronavirus/

Anyway Shelter Scotland also has 4 main policy asks in relation to the pandemic, as follows:

No Evictions - for the Scottish Government to ban all evictions. At the moment the Scottish government has committed to postponing evictions for private sector tenants for 6 months, but nothing has been pledged for social housing tenants: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/__data/ ... f/_nocache

Protecting rough sleepers - to ensure rough sleepers are not criminalised for breaching the emergency legislation about staying home etc (this could be an interesting one given some lawyer's interpretation of the lawfulness of the regulations, but whatever): https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/__data/ ... f/_nocache

Supporting people with no recourse to public funds or housing - people with no recourse to public funds (basically immigrants without status) have very limited recourse to housing: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/__data/ ... f/_nocache

Providing suitable temporary accomodation - giving councils powers to make use of holiday homes as temporary accommodation (my favourite, mwahahaha): https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/__data/ ... f/_nocache

I'm afraid I'm not up to date on England and Wales's positions but I'll post anything I find...

There is a campaign to support the above measures, and if you want to support it you can do so here: https://act.scotland.shelter.org.uk/coronavirus unfortunately it is only available for people in Scotland as it involves contacting your MSP...

BUT! There is also an emergency appeal if you fancy donating. England one here: https://england.shelter.org.uk/donate?r ... 0318-IG-01

Anyway sorry this is very Shelter based, if I spot other stuff in the coming days I'll post it here too so it's out of the way of the other threads.

So...sign the petitions and stuff, or bicker over whether you think they are a good idea or not, whatever, knock yourselves out...
Last edited by Stephanie on Thu May 14, 2020 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moved from Weighty Matters
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raven
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by raven » Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:59 pm

That Shelter England page is very good - clear, simple and comprehensive.

Oxford council is trying to find hotel rooms for rough sleepers to give them somewhere safe during all this, and they're giving out phones so they can call for help. I hope most local councils are doing something similar. Some of the current homeless places in Oxford have to shut, because they've got shared rooms/facilities which pose a risk. Some of them with self-contained rooms are staying open.

God knows how they'll house everybody safely in the places that flooded last month.

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discovolante
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:05 pm

raven wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:59 pm
That Shelter England page is very good - clear, simple and comprehensive.

Oxford council is trying to find hotel rooms for rough sleepers to give them somewhere safe during all this, and they're giving out phones so they can call for help. I hope most local councils are doing something similar. Some of the current homeless places in Oxford have to shut, because they've got shared rooms/facilities which pose a risk. Some of them with self-contained rooms are staying open.

God knows how they'll house everybody safely in the places that flooded last month.
Yes, Glasgow winter night shelter shut 2 weeks early which led to some er, issues with people being provided with accommodation.

I think there is going to be a major problem when the lockdown ends. I reckon (lol excellent analytical skillz disco) lot of people are going to be evicted and there may be an increase in homelessness. I could be totally wrong about that of course and I hope I am.
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by raven » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:27 pm

Wouldn't surprise me either. The benefits system is already struggling to cope with the influx of claimants. Every time that happens, there's a backlog that takes time to clear. (This is not a new thing, even if UC & applying by phone has made it worse. I had a friend who waited 52 weeks for his housing benefit to be sorted out in the 80s, and I remember parents struggling to get through to Child Benefit when tranferring to a new system threw a massive spanner in the works. 2005? 2010? Can't remember when that was.) I'm expecting some number of people will fall through the cracks, some will struggle to pay rent in the delay, and some landlords will evict.

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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 12:07 pm

I'm a bit too late posting this really, but the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill is well on its way through Parliament today and from a housing perspective Andy Wightman has been proposing a number of amendments, which are all being rejected but which could/should be agenda-setting in the next few months (I'm not sure what's going on in England now but I don't think it would hurt to look up north for ideas as to what could be done).

Here is a blog entry by him about it: http://www.andywightman.com/archives/4624

Here were his proposed amendments at an earlier stage (lifted from the blog):
Amendment 16 established a tenant Hardship Fund to respond to tenants in particularly acute distress.

Amendment 17 sought to freeze rents for two years.

Amendment 18 provided that in certain circumstances (to be seat out by Ministers) rent liability for some tenants facing particular hardship could be extinguished.

Amendments 19 and 20 were deigned to ensure that any rent areas accrued during the crisis would continue to be payable to landlords but could not be ground for eviction. This would prevent tenants losing their home but they would continue to be liable to pay any rent arrears accrued.
Here are the amendments for today:
Amendment 16 will be taken forward by Pauline McNeill MSP (note that these numbers relate to the Stage 2 amendments, the amendment numbers for Stage 3 will be different)

Amendment 17 will now apply only to the private rented sector and the baseline date will be 1 April so as not to disadvantage landlords who have reduced rents during the crisis.

Amendment 18 now makes clear that writing off rents is only for tenants facing unusual or extreme hardship and it will be for Ministers to define this in regulations. It is NOT and NEVER was framed as a broad writing off of rent.

Amendments 19 and 20 now apply only to the private rented sector and make explicit that arrears can only be disregarded for the purpose of evictions (but remain payable) if the arrears are directly liked to coronavirus.
These come in the context of several other (so far temporary) changes to Scottish housing law which I won't bore you with at the moment...

/end of PSA
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed May 20, 2020 3:24 pm

Thanks. These seem like sensible ideas.
Born at 356.32 ppm CO2

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discovolante
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 4:29 pm

Blimey it kicked off in the Scottish Parliament today :shock:
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gosling
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by gosling » Wed May 20, 2020 4:53 pm

What seems strange to me is that you can't be evicted for rent arrears, but if you're at the end of your contract then you can be.

Our lovely neighbours have just been given two months' notice to leave by their landlord, as they're at the end of their annual contract.

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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 5:50 pm

gosling wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 4:53 pm
What seems strange to me is that you can't be evicted for rent arrears, but if you're at the end of your contract then you can be.

Our lovely neighbours have just been given two months' notice to leave by their landlord, as they're at the end of their annual contract.
Is this in England, Wales or Scotland, or somewhere else?
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 6:08 pm

I assume England given it's an annual contract but just to save you a bit of time on the off chance that you reply and I don't see quickly (lol), here are Shelter's advice pages for England, Scotland and Wales relating to coronavirus stuff:

England: https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_ ... oronavirus
Bit more detail for England: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/ho ... d_eviction

Scotland: https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/get_adv ... s_COVID_19
More detail: http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/legal/ac ... s_covid-19

Wales: https://sheltercymru.org.uk/get-advice/coronavirus/
Can't find the legal page for Wales that easily right now...

Even in addition to the coronavirus stuff there may be a defence of sorts but they are often 'time buyers' for private tenancies...e.g. basic info here for assured shorthold tenancies in England (if that's what they have) https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_ ... ld_tenants
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gosling
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by gosling » Wed May 20, 2020 6:35 pm

You assumed right, it's England.

Thank you so much for the links!

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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 6:45 pm

gosling wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:35 pm
You assumed right, it's England.

Thank you so much for the links!
No problem :) I hope they manage to resolve this one way or another. Assured Shorthold Tenancies, if that's what they have, can get very complicated and there are loads of rules around ending them in these circumstances...which on the one hand can be useful if the landlord doesn't know what they're doing as it's easy for them to slip up, but also difficult to get your head around too. (Depending on when they moved in in particular, and if the property has gas, they might want to look into the rules regarding providing gas safety certificates - I'm serious: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/se ... section_21 - it's a bit of a hot topic but unless things have changed in the last few months, the balance is currently tilted in tenants' favour).

Sorry I am getting a bit carried away now...
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by gosling » Wed May 20, 2020 6:56 pm

Carried away is useful!

Interesting to see that they should have been given three months' notice. They were expecting the contract to be terminated this year as the landlord was trying to get more rent out of them, but I imagine this is a really bad time to look for a new place to live.

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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Wed May 20, 2020 7:03 pm

gosling wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:56 pm
Carried away is useful!

Interesting to see that they should have been given three months' notice. They were expecting the contract to be terminated this year as the landlord was trying to get more rent out of them, but I imagine this is a really bad time to look for a new place to live.
Yeah it's not a great situation :? what a time for the landlord to do this, and anyway if your neighbours pay monthly then the landlord could have just not renewed the annual contract and let it become a statutory periodic tenancy i.e. month by month instead of annual (then they wouldn't have been evicting at this sh.tty time but also given themselves a bit more flexibility), rather than renewing and tying themselves in for another year...anyway they may just want to look for somewhere else or try and negotiate with the landlord themselves which is totally understandable, but if they need to push back then I would really urge them to try and get some professional advice. Admittedly that is extremely hard to come by these days, especially if they have a reasonable-but-not-great income.
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Fri May 22, 2020 8:12 am

There is a petition/campaign from Shelter here to extend protection to renters and homeless people in England: https://campaigns.shelter.org.uk/corona ... ing-crisis
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Fri May 22, 2020 9:48 am

discovolante wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 8:12 am
There is a petition/campaign from Shelter here to extend protection to renters and homeless people in England: https://campaigns.shelter.org.uk/corona ... ing-crisis
I've just read elsewhere (on twitter) that at least one court is preparing to proceed with virtual possession hearings which would be without the duty solicitor scheme. I used to do this and would represent about 8-10 people a day - sometimes more, occasionally less. I mean I didnt do it every day but I was on a rota. I can't remember how many days a week the court heard those cases now but I'm pretty sure it was more than once a week. That's a fair few people I think. So anyway just to kind of emphasise that things might start going pretty badly for people unless further protections are put in place.
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:08 pm

discovolante wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:45 pm
gosling wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 6:35 pm
You assumed right, it's England.

Thank you so much for the links!
No problem :) I hope they manage to resolve this one way or another. Assured Shorthold Tenancies, if that's what they have, can get very complicated and there are loads of rules around ending them in these circumstances...which on the one hand can be useful if the landlord doesn't know what they're doing as it's easy for them to slip up, but also difficult to get your head around too. (Depending on when they moved in in particular, and if the property has gas, they might want to look into the rules regarding providing gas safety certificates - I'm serious: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/se ... section_21 - it's a bit of a hot topic but unless things have changed in the last few months, the balance is currently tilted in tenants' favour).

Sorry I am getting a bit carried away now...
I strongly suspect that this is relevant to nobody, but just because...there is now a Court of Appeal decision regarding the gas safety certificate issue:

https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2020/760.html

I can't be bothered to look through all this properly at the moment but I *think* the gist of it is that if there is a valid gas safety certificate in place then as long as the landlord serves the certificate on the tenant before issuing a s21 notice then the s21 notice is valid (from memory, before this decision the county court decision made by a senior county court judge was that a s21 notice could never be valid if the certificate wasn't served before the tenant entered into occupation). I could be wrong about that thought as like I said I haven't read it properly.

Blog here for those so inclined...https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2020/06/the-t ... conundrum/
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discovolante
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:11 am

Shelter have done a brief 'report' on the financial problems renters are facing: https://england.shelter.org.uk/support_ ... ths_report

No huge surprises there but seems the key immediate issues are use of mandatory eviction grounds and housing benefit/LHA still not being enough to cover people's rent. These strike me as things the government can continue to address relatively easily. I don't think asking landlords affected by rental incomes to demonstrate what steps they've taken to mitigate their loss (e.g. through use of government schemes) is too much of a massive ask either. At the moment the 'eviction ban' (which is really just a stay of all possession claims) ends on 23 August, but applications for mortgage holidays are available to the end of October.
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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:36 am

don't get any big ideas, they're not gonna happen

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Re: COVID-19 and housing

Post by discovolante » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:52 pm

Folks starting to get evicted in Scotland again, good times.
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