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In these tough economic times, families are finding it increasingly difficult to keep on top of their monthly outgoings as the cost of living keeps rising and wages are staying the same. It is no surprise then that more than 100,000 tenants across England and Wales are in long term rental arrears.

Rents for private tenants in England and Wales have reached a record high with the average cost of renting a home £734* a month, an increase of 2.9 per cent from the same time last year. Rental cost have been steadily increasing for the last five months as more and more people turn to renting as they struggle to get on to the property ladder.

The highest rent is in London, with the average cost at £1,074 a month and the lowest is in the East Midlands with the cost at £551 a month. With the economic forecast still looking gloomy, it isn’t looking like things will change too dramatically in the near future and many people fear that more and more people will find themselves in financial difficulty due to high rental costs.

We have put together a guide to help you should you find yourself struggling to maintain your rent payments.

  • Put together a list of all of your incomings and all of your outgoings. Make sure you list your priority outgoings first – these include your rent, council tax and utility bills.
  • Check to see if you are entitled to any benefits using the Turn2Us benefit checker (http://www.turn2us.entitledto.co.uk/entitlementcalculator.aspx) You could be entitled to a whole range of benefits that include housing benefit to help with your rent.
  • If you are struggle to get the funds together for this month’s rent and are worried that you won’t be able to make it then you need to contact your landlord as soon as possible and explain your situation to them.
  • If you have already missed a payment, then you need to talk to your landlord as soon as you can in order to arrange paying the arrears – using your income and expenditure calculations will help you see how much you can afford to pay extra each month to make up the arrears.
  • If you are living alone and have a spare bedroom, have you thought about getting a lodger? Check with your landlord first, but getting someone else in to help with the rent will half your household bills each month.
  • Seek help! There are lots of different charities and organisations out there that can help you. Shelter http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/debt_and_arrears/rent_arrears

If you have other debts then we at Payplan can also help.
      *Figure from LSL Property Services for August 2012