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
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
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
- Create a budget to work out the shortfall between your monthly income and your expenses.
- 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.
Reducing your monthly expenses
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
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.
If you’re being threatened with eviction
If you’re being threatened with eviction as a result of rent arrears, you can read about eviction and your rights in England on the Shelter website.
You should also get debt advice as soon as you can.