For many of us the pandemic has meant that we have had to make difficult decisions about how best to take our lives forward. One of our priority decisions is how to keep a roof over our head. For those who have been affected by the disease itself or by the fallout such as unemployment, the financial consequences may mean that maintaining their current mortgage or rental payments is going to be difficult and perhaps unsustainable. One person who found herself in this situation was Nicky.
Nicky* and her partner Clare* had rented a cottage two years ago. It was their dream home, and they were so happy.
Then came the pandemic. Initially they didn’t worry too much as they were not elderly, but as the pandemic progressed Clare did get Covid, she got it badly and four weeks later she tragically died. Nicky was devastated.
This was not a situation they had considered at all. Nicky didn’t know how to start figuring out what to do. A friend suggested that she might contact her local Citizens Advice – although their offices were closed, she could still contact them by phone or e-mail via their website. Nicky followed her friend’s advice.
How we helped Nicky
Nicky spoke to an adviser who checked what type of tenancy she had. The adviser went through her finances with her, checked if she could reduce any of her bills, claim any benefits or maximise her income in other ways. The rent on the property was the major problem with only one income to contribute. Nicky did not want to run up debts which she couldn’t repay, and which would eventually lead to eviction. One option the adviser offered was to take in a lodger (assuming that the landlord agreed) but she could not bear to think of sharing the cottage where she and Clare had been so happy with someone else.
Leaving her to consider her options, the adviser gave Nicky the details of a bereavement councelling service.
Then a colleague announced that she was moving from her one bedroom rented flat to look after her elderly father. Clare asked about the flat and found that it was convenient and would be affordable. She would need to put down a deposit, but she had a small amount of savings and should be due the return of the deposit which had been put down on the cottage, so she decided to proceed with the flat and give in her notice on the cottage.
Return of the deposit
But the cottage landlord was only prepared to return half of the deposit because of damage caused by leaks during the tenancy. Nicky rang Citizens Advice again and asked for help with the deposit. The adviser asked if the deposit had been placed in a deposit protection scheme. Checks revealed that her landlord had not met this legal requirement. Nicky also said that they had informed the landlord of the leaks (which were the landlord’s responsibility).
The adviser offered to help Nicky to write a letter to the landlord pointing out the responsibilities and setting a deadline for return of the full deposit.
*Names have been changed for reasons of client confidentiality.
If you need help with problems like this, please contatc us at Citizens Advice Waverley