You must act if you have rent arrears. Your home could be at risk if you don't.

Your rent is one of the most important bills to pay. You can be taken to court and evicted if you don't pay the rent.

If you can't pay the full rent on the day it is due you should:

  • pay as much as you can afford 
  • contact your landlord
  • make a plan to pay off any arrears.

If your landlord is already taking legal action to evict you for rent arrears contact the Housing Needs Team for assistance immediately.

 

Joint Tenancies

If you have a joint tenancy, you are 'jointly and severally' liable for the rent.  This means that you are both/all responsible for paying the rent on your own and together.

This means that if one joint tenant doesn't pay, the landlord can ask any of the other joint tenants to make up the shortfall. You might have to pay more to avoid rent arrears even if you have already paid your share.

 

Talk to your landlord

Contact your landlord if you are having problems paying your rent.

Don't ignore letters or phone calls from your landlord or agent. Your landlord may be willing to keep you as a tenant if the payment problems can be sorted out. See if you can come to an agreement to pay off the rent arrears in affordable instalments.

 

Check how much rent you owe

Landlords and tenants can make mistakes. Make sure you agree on how much is owed.

Keep records of:

  • all payments made by you
  • any housing benefit or universal credit payments 
  • rent in advance paid at the start of the tenancy.

 

You may be able to claim benefits to help pay your rent 

You can usually claim housing benefit or Universal Credit for your housing costs if you are on a low income.

 

You can ask for payments to go direct to your landlord

These benefits are usually paid direct to you. It might help if the payments are made direct to your landlord instead, however before you do this, check that the landlord did not stipulate "no benefit tenants" at the start of the tenancy.

 

Rent arrears caused by benefit delays

If you are a private or housing association tenant you can ask for a 'payment on account' after 14 days. This is a stop-gap housing benefit payment if the claim takes more than two weeks to process. You must have completed your form correctly and given in all the information the department needs to process your housing benefit claim.   

Universal Credit claims take at least 5 weeks to process. You can ask for an advance short-term payment, if you'll struggle financially while you wait for Universal Credit payments to start or increase, for example, you can't afford to:

  • buy food
  • pay rent or utility bills.

You repay an advance through deductions from future Universal Credit payments.

For more detailed information on this subject you can contact the Department for Work and Pensions or Shelter.

 

How we can help you with rent arrears

If you are renting from a private landlord or housing association, contact the Housing Advice Team who can:

  • negotiate with private sector landlords
  • use our spend to save fund
  • get you an appointment with a Citizens Advice specialist Debt and Benefit Advisor
  • referral to Aldwyck Housing Association's debt advisory service to help you with benefit entitlement and debt management.

If you are renting from the council and have rent arrears, contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer who can help you with:

  • a payment plan
  • a referral to tenancy support for help with benefit entitlement and debt management.

If you are struggling with other financial problems we can also refer you to:

  • a food bank
  • schemes to obtain reconditioned furniture.

 

Useful contact details for benefit claimants

The telephone number you will need to use to contact the Department for Work and Pensions directly will depend on how you make your claim.

Claim typeTelephone number
Telephone ('live service')0800 328 9344
Online ('full service')0800 328 9344