What to do if you’re struggling with rent arrears

Written by Chelsea Potter on 12 August 2016

With rent prices rising it is not surprising people are falling behind with payments and finding themselves with arrears. Not being able to afford your rent can be a worrying time because unless you act quickly, you might find yourself facing eviction. Today’s blog post looks at what to do if you are struggling to pay your rent and how you can regain control of your finances if you miss a couple of payments.

  • Talk to your landlord. First and foremost if you are struggling to afford your rent or have fallen behind with payments, contact your landlord or estate agent. The longer you leave it without discussing your financial struggles the more likely they are going to serve you with an eviction notice. Explain to them your issues and what you are going to do about them – always suggest a resolution so they know it won’t be a long term problem and they may be more flexible.
  • Look at your finances and highlight the problem. If you are struggling to pay your rent all of a sudden, why is that? Has your income decreased? Do you have extra bills to pay? Use a budget planner to look at where your money is going and look at ways you can prioritise certain expenditures like your rent.
  • Cut costs. Drawing up a budget will help you look at ways you can make cutbacks. If you are struggling to afford everything you need to prioritise your main household bills and make cutbacks on other expenses. For example rent, council tax and utilities are priority bills but expensive phone bills and broadband are not. Look at whether you could reduce your phone/internet/tv package or whether there are other ways you can make reductions.
  • Talk to your landlord about the possibility of renting out your spare room. If you have a spare room within your house could you take in a lodger to help pay the rent? You will need to check it with your landlord first but if you tell them you are struggling to pay the bills on your own, they should be more open to allowing an extra tenant move in. Make sure you do talk to your landlord about this first however as subletting is a serious offence.
  • Check your benefit entitlement. If you are struggling with low income and are no longer able to afford your rent, check your entitlement and see whether you qualify for any benefits. Housing benefit is available for people on low income to help assist them specifically with rent payments – you may be entitled to a full or partial benefit depending on your circumstances. To find out more contact your local Job Centre.
  • Check your housing rights. If your arrears are getting out of hand and you fear eviction is looming discover your rights. Landlords can’t throw you out without notice; they will have follow specific legal guidelines. Shelter can help you discover your rights and may be able to help you find new accommodation.
  • Talk to a debt advisor. If you’re missing payments and falling behind with your finances, it may be a sign your debts are getting out of control and that you might be in need of further help. Talk to a qualified debt advisor and see whether any debt solutions might be available to help you manage your bills and help you get on top of your finances.

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This article was checked and deemed to be correct as at the above publication date, but please be aware that some things may have changed between then and now. So please don't rely on any of this information as a statement of fact, especially if the article was published some time ago.

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