Photo credit: Alex Motoc
Many people are currently facing uncertainty when it comes to their housing situation, whether they are renting, a landlord, a homeowner or without a home at all. Here we have compiled some of the clearest information sources we could find that may help those of you who have questions and concerns during this time.
People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable in our communities to contracting COVID-19. If you haven’t got a roof over your head, how can you stay safe, feed yourself properly or even wash your hands on a regular basis? In addition, many services that normally offer support to homeless people – such as Frome’s community fridge – are currently out of action. On this basis, the government has instructed and funded Mendip District Council and other local authorities to urgently provide accommodation for all rough sleepers during the pandemic.
Since the lockdown started, Fair Housing for Frome has been working closely with Elim Connect, the service provider appointed by Mendip District Council, to make contact with rough sleepers in Frome and the surrounding area and offer them a place to stay. If you come across someone who is still sleeping out, or is in urgent need of housing support, please follow the usual protocol of contacting Streetlink, who will then pass the message on to Elim. Please be aware that although accommodation is being offered to everyone who is homeless in Frome, for their own reasons not everyone is willing to accept it.
Homeless Link are a good resource for the latest information about homelessness during the pandemic and in general. Alongside comprehensive and regularly updated documents, they are also broadcasting weekly webinars (Wednesdays 3pm) to provide an overview of current responses and emerging practice. To find out about booking or to catch up on past seminars, click here.
Community led housing/ Tiny Homes
During this unprecedented time, many people’s dreams of Tiny Homes projects and communities might feel a long way off. However, we are seeing that around the world some are recognising the advantages of tiny living as a response to self-isolation issues during the pandemic.
In Dorset, a company called NaviHo is offering to provide tiny homes as isolation pods for key workers and at-risk individuals during the pandemic. NaviHo is a tiny home designer/manufacturer and trailer provider that was booked to take part in the postponed Frome Tiny Homes Event 2020 as both a speaker and exhibitor. The isolation pods are designed by Bill Dunster OBE, are ready to manufacture, and can be either completely self-sufficient or connected to mains utilities. NaviHo would like to offer them either for purchase or for rent, and is looking for expressions of interest from government and working capital. Visit https://www.naviho.com for more information.
In China, tiny pods are already being 3D printed to house hospital workers and those self-isolating on a temporary basis: https://www.euronews.com/living/2020/03/13/people-are-isolating-from-coronavirus-in-tiny-homes-built-in-two-hours
Meanwhile in Seattle, Tiny House villages are being fast-tracked in response to Covid-19: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/tiny-houses-homeless-coronavirus-seattle-36735844
We do not know at this stage what impact this time of social isolation might have on the way people choose to live in the future. However, it has been interesting to hear from local families who are reconsidering their entire lifestyles and looking towards more community-based living options due to the social and financial impacts of the pandemic. If you are interested in finding out more about Community-led housing in Frome, keep an eye on this section of our website and consider joining Frome Area Community Land Trust.
Renters and Landlords
Both renters and landlords are facing challenging times due to the pandemic, but having access to clear information and guidance can make a big difference. Common questions include:
- What happens if someone can’t afford to pay their rent?
- Can my landlord still access my home during the lockdown period?
- I am due to move house, what should I do?
- Where do I stand with evictions during the pandemic?
Here are some of the most helpful links that we’ve come across:
Last month the government issued a document specifically for tenants and landlords, answering many questions you may have about your own situation. You can find this here.
Shelter have put together a concise and accessible Q & A Section on their website.
If you prefer to listen instead of read, Moneybox dedicated their Radio 4 programme on Wednesday 8th April to ‘Tenants and Landlords Rights’.
For landlords who are considering offering a rent reduction or holiday for their tenants, but are wary of legal complications, here’s a blog from Openrent that you may find helpful.
At this incredibly challenging time, the quality of the relationship between renters and landlords, along with an understanding of the difficulties that each of us are facing, can make a key contribution to our sense of security and wellbeing. Although there are some worrying stories in circulation about NHS renters being made homeless, or of landlords being left financially in the lurch, there are also many positive accounts of landlords and tenants communicating better than ever and demonstrating kindness and care for each other.
Resolving Tenant/ Landlord disputes
The current situation can put strain on any relationship, including those between tenants and landlords. Local non-profit letting agents Keyring Lettings have re-released a short blog offering sensible advice for resolving disputes before they escalate.
Looking for a home?
Although moving house at this time is not recommended, should you find yourself in a position where you are looking for a place to rent, or have an available space to rent out to someone without putting yourself, your family or your tenant at risk, you can use the Frome Housing Noticeboard to make a request or an offer.