Coronavirus: ‘What is an acceptable amount of rent to pay during the crisis?’

Property Clinic: ‘Our rent is €1,400. I earn €370 a week but can no longer go to work’

If we agree on an amount, do we need to pay the balances? Photograph: iStock

If we agree on an amount, do we need to pay the balances? Photograph: iStock

 

We’re paying €1,400 a month for rent. We are now on lockdown and I cannot go to work. I earn €370 a week. My husband and children get jobseeker’s allowance. We haven’t contacted our landlord yet.

Can you advise me as to what would be an acceptable amount of rent to pay during this crisis? If we agree on an amount, do we need to pay the balances? Would I qualify for rent allowance? I believe that we’re all going through this together and allowances should be made.

This is probably one of the most common questions coming in during this difficult situation for everyone, landlords included. The first thing I would do is to make absolutely sure that you and your husband are making the full use of the Government support that is out there. On top of that as you rightly indicated in your question rent allowance should be explored too. The best avenue to research would be the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) scheme.

With the limited information that you have given in your question it does sound like you would qualify for HAP. In saying that, I would contact your local county council immediately and talk to one of their representatives. From their experience they should know very quickly if you qualify or not.

If you do, they will send out a pack with forms in it to you which you should fill in straight away. There is a section for the landlord to write in details so you should let your landlord know you are exploring this avenue.

Remember, it is illegal for your landlord to turn down a tenant’s request to switch into HAP but they will probably know that already. Once all the above is done, sit down with your husband and see what the gap might be in what you can afford. You may find it is actually little or nothing if you get onto the HAP scheme.

If there is a gap then speak to your landlord and agree a temporary reduction in rent. Your lease agreement does require you to pay all the rent so the landlord is in his or her rights to ask you to pay the shortfall at a later date when this difficult situation passes. Other landlords may just right it off as a gesture of goodwill but do not assume that. – Marcus O’Connor

Marcus O’Connor is a Chartered Surveyor and MD of MFO, The Property Professionals. He is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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