The current coronavirus pandemic caught many of us by surprise – suddenly impacting our jobs, social lives and general way of life.
And for some people who were living in the UK temporarily, like students and those on working visas, it meant they had to rush home before the nationwide lockdown.
For many, this meant leaving behind their lives in the UK and now leaves them needing to pick up the pieces.
Here, Mike Ryan, Chief Executive at PACK & SEND, answers some key questions for those who fled the country in a hurry amid the nationwide lockdown.
What should I do about my UK accommodation?
If you fled the UK without formally ending your renting agreement or officially moving out of your home, it’s not all bad news.
The UK government has put help in place for renters affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, according to the Coronavirus Act 2020, landlords must give renters at least three months’ notice before they can begin any legal processes to evict them. This even protects renters who can no longer afford to pay their rent bills.
So, if you’re planning to return to the UK once the lockdown restrictions ease, this should give you enough time to sort out your future living arrangements and organise to move out of your accommodation once you’re back in the country.
And for those who’ve left the country for good, this 3-month window gives you enough time to arrange to get back all the things you left in the UK when you flew home.
I’m an international student, do I still have to pay for my student accommodation?
Unfortunately, any students who received their maintenance loan for the final term will still have to pay for the term’s accommodation.
However, it’s worth checking your tenancy agreement as it may include a break clause which allows you to end your tenancy early. This may leave you without much time to organise picking up your belongings though, so be prepared for a quick turnaround if you’re able to use this clause.
It’s also worth contacting your landlord or accommodation manager to see if they’re willing to agree a reduced rent rate while you’re not living in the property.
How do I close my UK bank account?
If you left the UK before closing a current account, you can do this easily from abroad.
Just make sure you’ve paid off any outstanding charges on your account and that your balance isn’t negative, then log into your online banking and select the ‘close account’ options.
The online service will then take you through the steps to confirm the closure. However, some banks may require you to contact them by phone or email too, for confirmation.
Any money left in your account when you close it will be sent to you by cheque, so make sure the bank has your correct address before closing the account.
If you’re planning to return to the UK or visit regularly in the future, consider switching your current account to an international account. This lets you transfer money between your overseas accounts without charges. These accounts, however, usually require a hefty deposit sum.
Will this affect my credit score?
Your credit score doesn’t take into account your savings or investments, just your ability to pay back any costs or debts you owe. So, closing your UK current account will not have any negative impact on your credit score.
How can I get back the things I left in the UK?
Many of those who fled the UK didn’t have time to pack up their lives before they left.
If you’re worried about getting back the belongings you left behind, contact a shipping specialist, who can arrange for your things to be collected, stored and sent back to you anywhere in the world.
If you have family or friends still living in the UK, they may be able to help with getting your belongings back. They can help a packaging company access your property, who’ll then pack up all your stuff safely and securely and hold onto it until it can be returned to you.
And if you were living in managed accommodation, like student halls, this can be arranged with the building concierge or security instead.