Coronavirus: 'Work dried up suddenly - how can I pay rent?'

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Natalia KurteczkoImage source, Handout
Image caption,
Natalia Kurteczko plans to move out of her home and into a hostel next month

A self-employed events organiser said she would need to leave her home and move into a hostel after work suddenly dried up because of the coronavirus.

Natalia Kurteczko, 30, has lived in Oxford for seven years and lodges in a house.

But she said a lack of work after events were suddenly cancelled had pushed her into drastic action.

She plans to move into a hostel because she can live there rent-free in exchange for work.

Annual events she has previously worked at across the country, including the Grand National, have been either cancelled or postponed over coronavirus fears.

Ms Kurteczko, who is Polish, said: "I'm absolutely jobless. I'm self-employed and I cannot get any hope from anyone. I'm not entitled to sick pay.

"What am I going to do? I have decided that I am going to keep my savings and move to a hostel and volunteer for 20 hours a week and I can stay there for free.

"This is my career. I used to work in delivery, marketing, social media and management, in different industries, but I don't know where to start really.

"We have been advised to work from home but in my job it isn't possible."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Oxford property market is skewed by the high number of student renters in the relatively small city

In Oxford, one of the least affordable cities in the country, renting is common and many people will be facing similar challenges.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government would bring forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction but the details were still to be finalised.

A group in the city has called for three-month "rent holidays", similar to those promised by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday for mortgage holders.

Lucy Warin, of the Oxford Tenants' Union, said renters needed more reassurances they would not lose out and called on authorities to do more.

She said: "We are already hearing from a lot of people whose income has collapsed.

"Their first thought is 'I have got to stop paying my rent and stop renting property'."

She praised "wonderfully socially-minded landlords" who had already assured their tenants they would not evict them if they lost their jobs or could not find work during the crisis.

But she said she remained worried others demanding payment could push tenants into "potentially lethal decisions".

"They're not going to isolate if they need to earn money," she said.

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