UPDATED 5.11.20

What does the new lockdown mean?

If you are halfway through moving house, have been issued with a notice by your landlord or have rent or mortgage arrears, Citizens Advice IW have compiled the most up to date information to make sure you that you know your rights and responsibilities.

We have a specialist Housing team who can give you advice on any of the following issues and more. Contact details are here

Please note: This information is correct at time of publishing and will be updated as more information is released.

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Moving House

The Government has issued guidance saying that you can still move house. People outside of your household or support bubble should not help you unless absolutely necessary. Click here for the Government guidance on moving home safely.

Estate agents and letting agents and removal firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can undertake viewings. When viewing properties, no more than 2 households (or bubbles) should be inside at any one time and the Government rules on social distancing and the need to wear a face covering need to be followed.

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Rent

Tenants are still obliged to pay rent under the terms of their tenancy agreement, unless they have been given a formal rent holiday by their landlord. Paying rent may be difficult, especially if you are unable to work and have lost income as a result.

If you are having difficulties, speak to your landlord - an early conversation can help to create a plan if you are struggling. Landlords may be able to get a break in their mortgage payments from their lender and may be able to 'pass this on' by allowing you a break in your rent. If they have already done this through the first lockdown, be aware that they may not be able to do this again. Please be aware that they are not obligated to do this.

You may be able to negotiate a reduced rent or rent holiday with your landlord, but this is ultimately their choice. If you manage to arrange a break with your landlord, you may have to pay the arrears back over time. 

If you receive Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit, you may be able to apply to the Isle of Wight Council for a Discretionary Housing payment to help cover some of the costs of rent which you are no longer able to afford. There is more information and an online application here

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Ending a tenancy

If you want to end your tenancy

You may wish to end your tenancy if you can no longer afford it, particularly if you have friends or family are able to take you in.

There are no changes to the rules governing 'Notice to Quit' by tenants. You will need to check your tenancy agreement to see what you have agreed as a notice period. 

If you have explored all of your other options and cannot afford your rent you may also ask your landlord to agree to an immediate termination ('surrender') of the tenancy. The landlord will generally be able to insist on notice or, if the tenant is within a fixed term, payments until the end of the fixed term.

If your landlord wants to end your tenancy

From the 29th August 2020, the notice period that landlords may give a tenant to leave their property has been extended to 6 months. If you have been issued with a notice since then or during lockdown and want advice on what to do, please contact us.

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Possession proceedings

From the 21st September, hearings for possession claims and evictions were able to re-start for rented properties if the landlord met a set of criteria laid down by the courts. Unlike the last lockdown, where these hearings were suspended in most cases, this time they will be allowed to continue. Some hearings will be remote (on the telephone/video) and some will continue to be face to face, with strict social distancing in place.

Senior Judges and legal personnel have spoken out about the difficulty in accessing 'remote' hearings (ie telephone or video conference). More information is available on the government website.

If you have had a court date come through or are currently awaiting a court date and are not sure what to do, contact us for further advice.

If you have been told that you will be attending a remote hearing, full guidance is available here. We can also talk you through it.

On the Isle of Wight, Citizens Advice has a specialist service which means that we can support you in these remote housing related hearings. Please contact us.

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Eviction 

The Government has asked bailiffs not to enforce evictions during this period of coronavirus restrictions, except in the most serious circumstances. These serious circumstances include: cases of illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour, fraud, eviction of a perpetrator of domestic abuse in social housing and where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant. The Government has also said that it intends to introduce 

Because there had already been agreement to pause evictions from mid December for a month, this means that evictions in England will not be enforced until the 11 January at the earliest, except in the most serious circumstances. The situation will be kept under review.

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Urgent maintenance 

If you are renting and there is a problem with your property, urgent maintenance can still be carried out.

The Citizens Advice national website has advice on how to safely have contractors in your home here

If an urgent inspection or works are required but an occupier suspects they may have the virus, they should inform the landlord and sensible precautions should be taken.

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We believe everyone is entitled to the information that affects their lives.

That’s why our charity has given independent, confidential and free advice to generations of island residents.

We want our clients to have the knowledge and the confidence they need to find their way forward - whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

In times of crisis, we're here for you. 

As our offices are currently closed to the public, the best way to contact us is on our Adviceline number:

0800 144 88 48



Other ways to contact us

- You can also contact us via webform  through the Isle Help website

- You can also get advice through the national Citizens Advice website where you can access webchat.

- If your enquiry is between 5pm to 8am you can leave an email. Enquiries through the national website will be answered by a Generalist Adviser from the national team.