How to deal with rent arrears

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

Prioritise your rent payments

Make rent your priority. Pay off your rent arrears before you pay other non priority debts.

You can ask to have your universal credit or housing benefit paid directly to your landlord if you're struggling.   

Speak to your landlord

Don’t ignore messages or letters from your landlord or letting agent. Speak to them about your situation and let them know you will send them a repayment plan.

They may be willing to keep you as a tenant if payment problems can be sorted out.

Come up with a repayment plan

Make sure you’ve tried all options to get help with your rent and put together a repayment plan. You can apply for a discretionary housing payment  (DHP) if your benefits or universal credit do not cover the cost of your rent.

Double check how much you owe in case you or your landlord has made a mistake.

Plan to pay an affordable amount each week or month and send this to your landlord. Make sure you have money left over to cover food and other priority debts.

Try and get an agreement in writing.

You can get help from a debt adviser to put together a plan.

Deductions from your benefits

You can ask for your arrears to be paid off through deductions from your benefits.

Deductions from universal credit

If you owe 2 months' or more rent, your landlord can request deductions from your payments.

Deductions from universal credit are higher than from other benefits.

Find out what to do if you're struggling because of universal credit deductions.

Deductions from other benefits

You can ask Jobcentre Plus or the Pension Service to pay off rent arrears through deductions from any of the following benefits:

  • jobseeker's allowance
  • employment and support allowance
  • income support
  • pension credit

You or your landlord can request deductions if you owe at least 4 weeks' rent and this has built up over at least 8 weeks. 

You may be able to request deductions where your arrears have built up over a shorter time depending on your circumstances. 

A maximum of £3.70 per week can be deducted and paid straight to your landlord.

If you can’t pay off your rent arrears

Your landlord may take steps to evict you if you can’t pay off your arrears. The eviction process takes time. You won’t have to leave your home straight away.

Ask for help from your council if you get an eviction notice from your landlord.

Last updated 28 Nov 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Have you had a bad housing experience?

By sharing your story, you’re helping spread the message of what we do so that we can help even more people.

Share your story Share your story

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.