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I’m a social housing provider. What do I do if I know my tenants are flouting the social distancing guidelines?

If a tenant continues to refuse to take heed of the government’s social-distancing guidelines, for example by inviting large groups of people who do not reside there to their property, it can constitute a nuisance. One housing association successfully applied for an injunction. The injunction ordered by the Court stipulated that no persons, other than the children of the tenant, are to attend the property until the current social-distancing restrictions are lifted by the government.

A representative of the housing association highlighted the need for the current guidelines to be followed and the need for housing providers to ensure that all residents living in their communities are kept safe during this time of ‘unprecedented risk’.

This case demonstrates that flouting of the current restrictions is likely to be considered anti-social in the eyes of the courts – a point which all housing providers should bear in mind during this period. Further, it highlights the availability of an alternative remedy to the issuing of possession proceedings (in light of the government’s moratorium on evictions) to deal with anti-social behaviour during the next three months, Covid-19 related or not.

Related FAQs

How should contracting authorities work with PFI providers?
  • Working with PFI providers to get contingency plans up to date
  • If a PFI provider is struggling to achieve service delivery requirements due to Covid-19, then local arrangements should be put in place to:
    • maintain unitary charge payments
    • revise contract requirements/standards

moderating payment and performance regimes where appropriate.

  • In any event, you may wish to review and adjust your requirements to reflect the current situation. It is possible that some requirements can be relaxed, whereas others need to be tightened. For example, there may be an increased need for cleaning and maintenance in certain areas of your PFI premises or the layout of the premises and/or room uses may have temporarily changed. With staff illness and shortage likely to be an issue, you may also wish to consider if the resource can be moved from one area to another to help maintain essential services.
  • When putting local bespoke arrangements into place it is vital that:
    •  Contract requirements or performance standards are not relaxed to the point where health and safety are put at risk.
    • It is made clear that the arrangements are temporary and that matters will return to normal as soon as the Covid-19 emergency is over. Indeed the guidance note makes clear that if assets temporarily close they should be kept in such condition that they can be immediately up and running when this emergency is over. In such instances, likely a basic level of maintenance and security will therefore be required as a minimum.
Is there a matched funding scheme for the National Emergencies Trust?

The government has also confirmed it will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser on 23 April – pledging a minimum of £20 million.

Do I need to give a personal guarantee to access finance under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)?

A number of our clients and networks raised issues in the early stages of the Scheme around the requirement for personal guarantees to access finance under the Scheme. The Scheme has now been updated so that:

  • For facilities under £250,000, personal guarantees cannot be taken to support lending under the Scheme.
  • For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required by a lender but the amount which can be recovered under these guarantees is capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after taking into account any other recoveries from business assets.
I pay child maintenance and half of my children's private school fees to my ex-partner but I have been placed on Furlough, with no top-up from my employer, so my income has dropped significantly. Is there anything I can do?

a. You should first try and discuss this with your ex-partner, either directly or through a Solicitor, to see whether an amicable agreement can be reached.

If you contribute to private school fees voluntarily, it is a matter for you and your ex-partner to resolve the issue with the school, depending whose name is on the bills. You may need to speak to the children’s school to see whether they can offer any reductions or remedies in relation to those payments. If you contribute to the school fees as part of a Court Order, you will need to ensure you do not breach the Order and you may need to consider applying for a variation of the Order if you can no longer afford the payments or reach a compromise agreement with your ex-partner.

You can use the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) calculator (https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance) to recalculate your child maintenance obligations using your amended income. This recalculation can then be used in your discussions and you can formally instruct the CMS to verify that calculation if you and your ex-partner cannot reach an agreement about it. If you have already formally involved the CMS, they do carry out an annual review of child maintenance payments, however, they will also recalculate payments outside of the review period where there has been a change in income of 25% or more. We expect the CMS will be experiencing a high volume of enquiries at the present time so anticipate there may be delays in them assisting.

The position on child maintenance payments included in a Court Order are slightly more complicated and how you approach this will depend on how much time has passed since the date of the Order.

What support is available for Start-ups?

According to the guidelines laid down by the Treasury, many Start-up businesses will not be considered “viable” as they are at an early stage in the investment cycle (i.e. delivering negative returns but with strong growth prospects). This means they are unlikely to qualify for CBILS although for primarily UK based Start-ups it is still worth making enquiries as policies are rapidly evolving.

For early-stage businesses in their first two years of trading, the British Business Bank’s Start-Up Loans programme (loans £500 to £25,000 at 6% p.a. interest) may be more suitable. Visit www.startuploans.co.uk for more information.

For start-up businesses that are unable to access CBILS, the Government launched The Future Fund in May 2020 via the British Business Bank, which provides convertible loans to UK-based innovative companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. This scheme is available until 30 September 2020 initially.

Your business is eligible if:

  • it is UK-incorporated – if your business is part of a corporate group, only the parent company is eligible
  • it has raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last five years
  • none of its shares are traded on a regulated market, multilateral trading facility or other listing venue
  • it was incorporated on or before 31 December 2019, and
  • at least one of the following is true: (i) half or more employees are UK-based; and/or (ii) half or more revenues are from UK sales.

Further information is available on the Government website, www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund

The Government is also offering additional support for small and medium size firms that are primarily focused on research and development. This targeted support is available through a continuity grant and loan scheme. The grant scheme is only available until 29 May 2020 while the loan scheme is open for applications until all the money is allocated or 31 December 2020 (whichever is earlier). This scheme is administered by Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, and this support will mostly only be available to existing Innovate UK customers.
Further information is available on the on the Government website, www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-coronovirus-business-innovation-support-package