Advice on rent arrears

Getting into rent arrears can be very distressing but don’t ignore the problem.

Your home is at risk if you do not pay your rent so it is important to take steps to address the problem. Services and support are available to help you. You may also have other debts, but it is important you know which debts needs to be paid first. Please read our Managing your money guide for further information.

Problems paying rent

Most people will have difficulties paying all of their bills at some point. If you are worried that you cannot meet your next rental payment:

  • Talk to your landlord about the problem – if you think you are going to be late with a payment, or you are unable to make a rent payment, talk to your landlord. If there is a good reason for the late or missed payment, the landlord may be sympathetic. Advance notice will mean your landlord may be able to take steps to reduce the effect that a missed payment will have
  • Pay what you can – pay as much as possible towards your rent even if you can’t afford to pay it all. This will show your landlord that you are making an effort to deal with the situation. It also means the debt does not become too large very quickly. It is worth paying what you can even if your landlord tells you that you must pay all of your rent. If your landlord refuses to accept your money, keep it in a separate account and keep offering to pay it. If you have missed rent payments your landlord may let you pay back the money you owe over a period of time rather than in one payment. Try to agree an amount that you can afford.

Money advice and options

Get debt and money advice. 

There are a number of local agencies and initiatives which can assist you with debt advice. These include Citizens Advice and the National Debtline. They can help you with your debt problems if you are having problems with your rent, mortgage and other bills. You shouldn’t have to pay for debt advice as most services are provided with support from the government.
A money or debt adviser can help you get to grips with your finances and may be able to get your creditors to agree to a repayment plan that will allow you to pay off your debts in instalments. Sticking to a budget will give you a better idea of what you can and can’t afford.

You can also access Citizens Advice’s online budgeting tool for further assistance.

Dealing with rent arrears

If you fall behind in paying your rent, you will get into rent arrears. If you are struggling to pay your rent, this may be because you have too little money coming in and you could be eligible for additional benefits. There are a variety of benefits that you may be entitled to and we recommend you get expert advice if your home may become at risk. For further advice and information please contact your local Citizens Advice Somerset office.

Negotiate a payment plan

Although your landlord does not have to accept a repayment plan, they may be willing to do this, particularly if you have been a good tenant or the proposal seems realistic and will allow you to pay off the rent arrears.

To negotiate a repayment plan, you should first work out your full monthly income and your necessary monthly expenditure. Be realistic and make sure you allocate enough money to essentials, such as food, travel costs, heating and electricity bills.

You can also access the Citizens Advice online budgeting tool.

Once you’ve worked out your monthly income and expenditure, you should be able to see what is left over at the end of the month. Decide how much of this you can put towards clearing your rent arrears and write to your landlord to see if the proposal is acceptable.

If a money or debt adviser is working on your case, you might want to ask if this person will communicate with the landlord on your behalf.

Tenants who receive housing benefits can apply for a short-term top-up payment, known as a Discretionary Housing Payment, if they are having difficulty paying rent in full each month. As these payments are discretionary, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any extra housing benefit or if you do, it is only likely to be for a short period until you can take steps to pay the shortfall yourself or look for more affordable accommodation.

Keep to any payment plan you have made, and if you have further difficulties, speak to your landlord.

Last reviewed: July 11, 2024 by Neil

Next review due: January 11, 2025

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