Help with rent arrears and problems with paying your rent

If you cannot pay your rent, don’t ignore the problem. Talk to your landlord as soon as possible. Whether the problem is caused by a change of circumstances, a budgeting difficulty, or a cut in benefits, you can take some important steps you can take to help get yourself back in control and avoid eviction.

Talk to your landlord

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It’s understandable you might be afraid of telling your landlord or agent you’re going to be late with the rent.

But it’s far better to get the issue out in the open before you actually fail to pay up.

When you speak to your landlord:

  • explain why you’re going to be late with the rent and ask for some extra time
  • be clear about what you’re doing to address the problem to help ensure it won’t happen again.

Read on to find out what you can do to get back in control.

You’ll also find links to sources of free help and advice.

Identify the problem and work out a plan


Find out more about the help available if you’re struggling with housing costs during the coronavirus outbreak.

In some cases, it’ll be obvious why you have a problem.

Perhaps your income or expenses have suddenly changed for the worse.

For example, because you’ve lost your job or your partner has moved out and stopped contributing to the rent.

In other cases, it might simply be you’re living beyond your means. Either way, you’ll need a plan.

Being repeatedly late with your rent could lead to eviction and a bad reference from your landlord.

Which will make it difficult for you to find another property to rent.

Your landlord could also withhold some of the deposit to cover underpaid rent if you still owe money when you move out.

Your two-step plan

  1. Use our Budget planner to work out the shortfall between your monthly income and your expenses.
  2. Look at ways you can cut back or boost your monthly income to close the gap – see the later sections in this guide.

However, if it’s likely to be a long-term problem, seeking help right away might be the best solution. Before matters get out of control.

See later in this guide for organisations who can help you.

Reducing your monthly expenses

Use our Quick cash finder to see where you can cut back on things you buy regularly.

Cutting back can be difficult, but it won’t be as painful as being evicted from your home.

Which is why it is vital you act now.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • can you ditch any of your regular monthly expenses or cut back on any luxuries?
  • are you on the cheapest tariff for all your monthly bills?
  • if you have credit card debt, can you switch to a 0% credit card and save yourself some interest payments?
  • are you spending too much on going out or new clothes? It’s far more important to be able to pay the rent?

Boosting your current income through benefits

Help to Claim

If you’re claiming Universal Credit for the first time, Citizens Advice has a dedicated service to help you. Call 0800 144 8444 in England or 0800 024 1220 in Wales. For more information and to find your local Citizens Advice on their website.

In Scotland, call 0800 023 2581, via webchat on the Citizens Advice website or contact your local bureau directly during their usual business hours.

If your circumstances have changed and your income has fallen as a result, you might be able to claim benefits to help you pay your rent, such as Housing Benefit.

However, your Universal Credit payment may not cover all your housing costs. This is more likely if you are living in private rented housing.

If this happens you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local council to cover the shortfall in rent.

You can only claim a DHP after you have received your first Universal Credit payment.

To help you prepare before you get your first payment, a Help to Claim adviser can help you work out whether your Universal Credit payment will cover all your rent and help you make a claim for a DHP to your local council if you need one.

You might also be able to get help with your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction through your local council.

Where to get free help and advice

If you want to talk to someone about how to deal with your landlord, you can call Shelter or the Citizens Advice Bureau, or Housing Advice NI in Northern Ireland.

These organisations will also be able to talk to you about what entitlements you might be able to claim to help pay your rent if you’re on a low income.

If you’re already in arrears with your rent or are struggling with debts, talk to a debt adviser as soon as possible.

You don’t have to worry alone.

If you’re being threatened with eviction

In England, evictions have been suspended until 21 February 2021. Your landlord must give you six months’ notice of eviction until the end of May 2021, other than in the most serious cases.

Evictions will not be enforced in areas subject to a local lockdown and will not take place over the Christmas period.

Find out more on the Shelter website.

In Scotland, evictions were initially stopped for six months and the Scottish government is proposing extending this until 31 March 2021.

Find out more on the Shelter Scotland website.

In Wales, evictions have been suspended until 31 March 2021 and your landlord must give you six months’ notice of an eviction.

Find out more on the Shelter Cymru website.

If you’re a private renter in Wales and are already in arrears, or might struggle to pay your rent because of coronavirus, you might also be eligible for a Tenancy Saver Loan.

This loan will have to be repaid over a period of up to five years and you will be charged interest of 1%.

You will not be eligible for a loan if you’re currently getting Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit.

Find out more about eligibility for the Tenancy Saver Loan and apply on the Gov.Wales website.

In Northern Ireland, until 31 March 2021, you must be given 12 weeks’ notice of an eviction.

Find out more on theNI Direct website{:target=”_blank”}.

If you’re being threatened with eviction as a result of rent arrears, follow the links below to check your options and rights:

You should also get debt advice as soon as you can.

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