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How to deal with rent arrears

Rent is one of your most important monthly payments.

If you pay late or miss payments, it's called being in rent arrears.

Take these steps if you owe rent:

1. Contact your landlord

Always try to contact your landlord or letting agent about missed rent payments.

If you're not sure what to say, just let them know:

  • you will pay what you owe as soon as you can

  • you are getting advice and taking steps to deal with the arrears

Guide for private renters

We have advice and letter templates about late or unpaid rent in a private tenancy.

Even private landlords may let you stay if problems can be sorted out.

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2. Get a benefits check

You can do this for free with an online calculator or through a helpline.

You could get money that you did not know about.

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3. Apply for discretionary housing payments

Discretionary housing payments (DHPs) are extra money to help with rent.

You can apply for DHPs from your local council if you get:

  • universal credit

  • housing benefit

You have to give information about your income and spending when you apply.

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4. Look for other money help

You could get more help to pay rent, other living costs or debts.

A grant or interest free loan could help if you need to pay off rent arrears quickly.

Grants are best because they are extra money that you do not have to pay back.

Some councils give money from their homeless prevention fund. For example, if you're at risk of eviction and this would help you stay in your home.

Find out about:

Avoid payday loans and doorstep lenders

These loans are expensive and often make your debt worse.

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5. Use an online budget tool

These websites have tools or templates and are a good place to start:

You need information about your income and spending to use these tools. If most of your money goes through your bank account, a lot of this information is on your statements.

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6. Make a repayment offer

You can make a repayment offer if your budget shows that you can afford to pay:

  • your normal monthly rent

  • an extra amount each month towards the arrears

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7. Find a debt adviser

Get debt advice if:

  • you have other unpaid bills or debts

  • you cannot see how to pay off your arrears

  • your budget shows you cannot afford your rent

  • it's hard for you to take any of the other steps without help

  • you are being evicted for rent arrears

Breathing space

A debt adviser can talk to you about breathing space.

This scheme pauses debt recovery for up to 60 days while you get debt advice.

It can also pause the eviction process if your landlord is evicting you for rent arrears.

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8. Deal with an eviction notice

A notice from your landlord is the first legal step towards eviction.

Your landlord still has to apply to court. They might not do this if you can sort out your money or benefit problems.

Get free legal advice

Anyone with a notice can get free legal advice and help at court.

You could also get legal aid help if you're on benefits or a low income.

Check what the notice means

Find out what to do if you get a:

A notice from the bailiffs means your landlord has already got an eviction order.

Find out if the court can stop or delay the bailiffs.

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Last updated: 11 July 2024

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