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How to deal with rent arrears

Take action to deal with rent arrears - you could be evicted if you don't.

Make rent arrears repayments

Rent should always be your first priority above all the other bills you have. You can be taken to court and evicted if you don't pay the rent.

Rent is a priority bill. Your rent arrears could increase if you pay other bills or debts instead of your rent.

Try to pay as much as you can afford towards your arrears regularly. Even a small amount can make a difference.

It's worth making regular payments even if you can only afford to pay off a small amount each week.  It shows your landlord that you are making an effort to deal with the problem. 

Pay rent arrears direct from benefits

If you are a council or housing association tenant you can make rent arrears payments direct from certain benefits.

You or your landlord can ask for an amount to be taken out of income support or jobseeker's allowance each week. This is put towards paying back the arrears.

You'll have less money to spend but this may help you to keep your home.

Find out more from about paying bills and rent arrears using your benefits.

Claim housing benefit 

You may be able to claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent if you are not working or are on a low income.

Use the Turn2Us benefits calculator to help you work out if you are eligible for housing benefit.

Use Shelter's directory to find a welfare or benefits adviser in your area.

Find out what you can do if your housing benefit payments are delayed.

Claim a discretionary housing payment

You may be able to apply to the council for extra payments such as a discretionary housing payment if your housing benefit does not cover the whole of your rent and you can't afford the difference.

This is usually only be available for a short time, but might help until you can make other arrangements.

Check your entitlement to benefits

You may be entitled to claim benefits. This could help you to increase your income and pay your rent.

To find out more about benefits:

Contact a debt adviser

A debt adviser may be able to help you to reduce your debt payments and to negotiate with those you owe money to.

A debt adviser can also check your finances with you to see if making changes to your budget, by reducing your spending or increasing your income, can help you to repay arrears or stop the arrears building up any further.

Contact the National Debtline for more information about debt advice.

Last updated 28 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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