Check the amount of rent arrears

Check the amount of rent arrears you owe. You and your landlord should try to agree how much rent arrears you owe.

What counts as rent arrears

Rent usually covers only the amount that your landlord charges for living in the property.

You might also pay your landlord for other things such as bills and service charges.

Ask your landlord how much of what you owe is rent and how much is for other services. It is important that you pay all the charges.

Your tenancy agreement may also say what rent includes and what it does not include.

Find out how much rent arrears you owe

If you have a rent book, it should contain details of your rent payments and outstanding balance.

If you don't have a rent book and you pay your rent in cash, make sure you get a receipt.

Any rent statements from your landlord should also show what you have paid.

Keep records of these statements and of any payments you make to your landlord in case there is a dispute.

Ask your landlord for a statement of your rent account from the date when the rent arrears are supposed to have started.

Check the amount of rent arrears

Check that the amount your landlord says you owe is correct.

For example:

  • have all the payments you made been recorded?
  • have any payments of housing benefit paid direct to your landlord been recorded?
  • has any rent you had to pay in advance been taken into account?
  • has everything been added up correctly?

Find out if you are responsible for the full amount owed or if someone else should be paying part of it.

Joint tenants are usually both responsible for rent payments. If one joint tenant moves out, any others may become liable for their share.

Find out more about private rented tenants and joint tenancies.

Rent arrears if you claim housing benefit

If you claim housing benefit, you are still personally responsible for making sure all your rent is paid and for any arrears you have.

This is the case even if:

  • there are delays in payments to you
  • your payments are going directly to your landlord
  • your housing benefit entitlement covers only part of your rent

Housing benefit does not cover some rent charges, for example water rates.

Find out what you can do if you have rent arrears due to a housing benefit problem or if you have a housing benefit shortfall.

Rent arrears if you live in shared accommodation

You are responsible for paying the whole of the rent if yours is the only name on the tenancy agreement.

Each tenant is equally liable for paying the rent if you have a joint tenancy agreement.

If one joint tenant does not pay, the other tenants are responsible for paying that tenant's share as well as their own.

Get advice on rent arrears

Many of Shelter's local services provide specialist help with rent arrears, debt and welfare benefits, as well as housing.

An adviser can check:

  • if the money you owe is rent arrears
  • if the amount is correct
  • what benefits you are entitled to

Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser in your local area

National Debtline, Citizens Advice and other agencies also provide free, specialist advice.

Use the Legal Adviser Finder to find solicitors and other advisers who may be able to help.

Last updated 28 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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