How-To-Manage-Rent-Arrears-Consumer-Debt-Help

How To Manage Rent Arrears

There could be many reasons why you’re struggling to pay your rent. Perhaps you’re facing a complete change of situation overnight and you need your money elsewhere. Maybe you’re sharing a house and someone has unexpectedly left, leaving you with more to pay. There could be a delay on your salary or benefits making it very difficult for you to pay the rent on time. Whatever the reason is, you need help on how to manage rent arrears.

Table of contents:

    What Is A Priority Debt ?

    To start with in this guide on how to manage your rent arrears, you need to know that rent is a priority debt according to the law. This means that any money owing for rent must be paid before any other bills you might have, such as council tax or energy. It doesn’t matter how big or small your rent amount is. You have to pay this first as a priority debt before any others.

    Other priority debts include council tax, child maintenance, gas and electricity, mortgage, court fines and your TV licence. Also income tax, national insurance and VAT.

    Who Pays The Debt

    If you’re struggling with paying your rent, you need to admit this as soon as possible. Then you can take steps to avoid eviction.

    Your rights as a tenant depend on where you live in the UK and the type of tenancy you have.

    For example, if you signed a tenancy agreement with other people when you moved in, you have a ‘joint tenancy’. So together you are responsible for paying all of the arrears if this happens. If one tenant doesn’t pay, you’ll have to pay for them.

    Whereas if you live with other people but sign a separate tenancy agreement, you only need to pay the rent you agreed. Hence you are not responsible for anyone else.

    What To Do If You’re Struggling With Rent Arrears

    If you’re at risk of homelessness because you can’t pay your rent, then contact your local authority as soon as you can. Speak to someone in the housing department. They will give you advise about applying for social housing or emergency accommodation. Seek help as soon as possible, especially if you know you are not going to be able to pay your rent in the near future.

    What If My Benefits Are Delayed

    If the housing benefit which you use to pay your rent is delayed for any reason, once again, tell someone as soon as you can. Speak to your local council housing benefit department. Keep a copy of your original claim if possible to help.

    First, speak to your landlord and explain the situation. They may agree to a later payment or a temporary pause.

    This counts for any delays with Universal Credit too. In this situation, you can contact the Universal credit helpline and they may be able to pay your rent directly the landlord instead.

    How To Deal With Rent Arrears

    Maybe you can see that you will fall into rent arrears soon. In which case, now is a good idea to look at your overall budget and work out how much you can afford to pay. If it’s not the full amount, but you can still pay some, contact your landlord to talk about your situation.

    You could give them a copy of your budget and explain what’s happening. This will prove that you are offering to pay the most you can manage and genuinely want to make it work. For example, perhaps you pay £600 rent a month. You can’t pay the full amount this month, but you could pay £100 and then add £100 each month to your next payments. It’s always worth speaking to your landlord first.

    Remember, if your landlord agrees to this new plan, you must stick to the arrangement. If you landlord refuses this offer, then you need to get further support.

    Where To Get Support To Manage Rent Arrears

    Contact A Local Advice Centre

    You can get free and impartial advice from a local debt centre if you’re facing rent arrears. Try the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local council. The housing department can assist or point you to further support.

    Free Online Advice

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you don’t want to seek help face to face, you can also get online support. Get in touch with stepchange.org and just answer a few online questions to speak to a trained professional online.

    It’s much better to get help and support as soon as you can rather than ignoring the situation.

    Breathing Space

    If you’re behind on your rent, you may qualify for the Breathing Space scheme. This gives you up to 60 days respite from interest, fees and court action. During this time, your landlord cannot evict you for rent arrears. However, they could still evict you for anti social behaviour for example.

    Breathing space is a free Government scheme which began in 2021.

    What If I Am Facing Eviction

    Before any formal eviction proceedings take place, your landlord should tell you about the arrears you owe and give you a chance to pay them back.

    In England, landlords must give four months notice of eviction. Typically, you will get a written notice called ‘a notice to quit’ or ‘notice of seeking possession’. Ultimately, this gives you some extra time to find out how to manage your rent arrears before an eviction takes place.

    If you don’t pay back the arrears or leave the property by the date stated in the notice, your landlord can start court action to evict you. You’ll get some court forms and a hearing date in your local court. You’ll usually have to attend the hearing if you want to stay in the property. Extra court fees are likely to be added to your arrears.

    At the hearing, a judge may allow you to stay in the property or they may give you a final date to leave. If you don’t leave by the date the court gives you, the landlord can take further action to have you and your possessions physically removed.

    Summary: How To Manage Rent Arrears

    To sum up, there are different reasons why people suddenly find themselves unable to pay rent. Falling into rent arrears can cause an incredible amount of stress, particularly if it also affects your family or friends. Therefore, don’t ever ignore it. Hopefully you can take some advice from this article on how to manage rent arrears.  Remember, you can get free debt advice, so don’t think you need to face the problem alone. There are ways to negotiate with your landlord and to work your way out of debt before you face eviction.

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