Housing and homelessness advice during COVID-19 outbreak
How to get housing advice
Lewisham, like the rest of London and the country, is facing the severe effects of a housing crisis. With nearly 10,000 households on the Council’s housing waiting list, we cannot support everyone into council housing but are working hard to deliver more genuinely affordable homes. For further online housing information and advice, you can fill out our fill out our questionnaire. It will only take a couple of minutes to complete and you will not be required to provide any personal information.
Assessing your housing situation
If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, please call 0208 314 7007. We will refer you to one of our Housing Solutions Officers who will assess your application by phone. We will work out what your needs are and give you advice on the next steps to take.
So that we can carry out our assessment, we may ask you to email a clear photo of a form of identification. Unless we see a form of identification, we may be unable to assist you fully.
We will need to see one of the following:
- a valid passport
a full birth certificate
valid immigration documents
Accessing our service online
Lewisham are moving towards an online referral system for helping those who are homeless or soon to be homeless – the Lewisham Homelessness Portal. We hope this will make contacting us easier if you are homeless or believe you will be made homeless in the near future.
To trial this new system, from 1st February 2021 we will only be dealing with emergency cases through our call centre. This means, unless you are homeless on the day you contact us on the telephone, you will need to visit the portal and register your details for a call back.
If you have received written or verbal notice from your landlord/ friend/ family member and it does not expire on the day you call us, you will be directed to complete a self referral form on the portal. We will contact you within 5 working days of receiving your portal application to discuss your housing issues.
Refer a client for housing advice
The quickest way for partners to refer clients for support is through our alert portal. If you are aware of anyone at risk, please complete the referral form and we will be in touch as soon as we can.
Housing services can also be contacted at:
Other key support services include:
- Social Service: 020 8314 6000
- Housing: 020 8314 7007
- Lewisham Homes Income Team – 0800 028 2028
- Regenter – 0207 635 1200
- Resident parking: 020 8787 5397
- Council tax: 020 8690 9666
- Environmental Health: 020 8314 6536
- Switchboard: 020 8314 6000
If you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 we can offer support and advice. Contact the Housing Options Centre by emailing email@example.com or calling 020 8314 7007.
If you are having trouble paying your housing costs due to the COVID-19 outbreak you should contact your landlord, housing authority or managing agent and let them know. If you need to speak to someone about your housing situation, call the Housing Solutions Service on 0208 314 7007.
- You can apply for help with paying your housing costs online.
- Read about what support you can get if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need more help.
- If you are facing immediate financial hardship you can apply for a grant from The Government.
Advice for tenants
Tenants are still legally required to pay rent. There is no rent holiday. If you are having trouble paying your rent you should contact your landlord.
The Government has also introduced support for tenants to ensure that no one is forced out of their home during this time. The measures include:
- Guidance on recent changes to new possession proceedings can be found here.
- The minimum notice periods tenants receive for evictions is now from three to six months. This rule will be in place in England until at least 31 March 2021, apart from in cases involving issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse. Please see more information on evictions notice periods in the below section.
- Landlords to be protected as 3 month mortgage payment holiday is extended to ‘Buy to Let’ mortgages. Find more information about a mortgage holiday on the Residential Landlords Association’s website.
The Government has more details about support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on their website.
If you are being harassed, or your landlord is threatening you with eviction, call 020 8314 9285 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email the Private Sector Housing Information service at email@example.com for more information.
Information on evictions
The government has advised that the suspensions on evictions has been extended up until 21 February 2021. This means that no eviction notices will be served until 21 February, at the earliest.
As a fourteen day notice period of eviction applies, it is expected that no evictions will be enforced until 8 March 2021.
The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances. These include:
- where the court has already made an order because of antisocial behaviour
- perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing
- illegal occupation
extreme rent arrears equivalent to 9 months rent, with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted
If you are a landlord or tenant, you will be notified by the courts of any progressions made to your situation.
Information on eviction notices
The six month time limit applies to all section 21 evictions from 29 August 2020. A section 21 notice is usually served by a landlord to end a private rented tenancy. If your landlord has recently served you with a notice, you can contact us for help on 0208 314 7007. Our Housing Solutions Service can speak to your landlord to try and help you keep your home. You can also check that the notice is legal by completing our questionnaire.
Eviction periods differ depending on individual circumstances. These can include people owing more than six months in rent arrears, or where there have been issues with antisocial behaviour or domestic violence.
If you have been served with a notice and need more advice, you can contact:
- Citzens Advice Bureau
- or call 0208 314 9285 or 0208 314 7007
- or visit our evictions information page for further information
Advice for rough sleepers
If you are currently rough sleeping or know someone who is rough sleeping that requires urgent assistance, contact Streetlink on their website or call 0300 500 0914. Streetlink can help to connect a person to local services and help them find support.
You are still able to move house and view properties to move into.
Estate and lettings agents, removers, valuers and people in sales, lettings offices and show homes can continue to work. But they will need to change how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19. This could include doing more online viewings, asking people to leave their property during viewings and making sure properties are cleaned before someone else moves in.