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How to Deal with Rent Arrears

How to Deal with Rent Arrears 

If you fall behind with your rent payments to your landlord or letting agents, this is called rent arrears. Even though it can be tough to deal with, you can take actions as soon as possible. However, if you ignore it, it will only get worse. 

rent arrears housing
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Who has to pay the arrears? 

The first thing to do is to check who is responsible for paying back all of the rent arrears. This all depends on what type of tenancy you signed. If you have a ‘joint tenancy’ where we signed an agreement with someone else. This could be a partner or flatmates. This means that you are all responsible for paying all of the arrears. If one person does not pay, you will need to pay it for them. If you live with someone but have signed separate tenancy agreements, you will need to pay the rent you agreed. If you took over someones else’s tenancy, you are only responsible for paying the rent from the date your tenancy started and don’t need to pay anything owed by the tenet before you. However, in some cases, if you took over someones tenancy – know as ‘assignment’ or ‘succession’ – you maybe responsible for the there rent arrears in some cases. It is best to have your tenancy agreement handy at all times. If you don’t have an agreement, you should ask you landlord to give you basic terms in writing. This should include how much you rent is and how often it should be paid. You will need to contact someone like Citizens Advice if there has never been a written agreement. 

How to check the amount you owe 

You will need to check how much you owe and whether this matches your own records and documents. You can check your; bank statements, receipts or rent book or rent card. If you have a weekly tenancy, your landlord must give you a rent book or other form of record for your rent. They must also check and keep a record of all your payments and that they add up correctly. You should ask your Landlord for a statement of how much you have paid if you have not kept a note of your rent payments, you think your rent book or card is not lear or you can’t find them anymore. 

If you are on benefits and they are being paid to your landlord you will need to check with your local council or DWP to find out how much your landlord is being paid. 

housing rent arrears

Agree your terms

The best thing to do is talk to your landlord about your situation as they might be able to help set up a plan to pay it back. This could mean that you make small payments back over a longer period of time. Never offer to pay more than you can realistically afford. You could make the problem worse if you can’t keep up. If your landlord agrees to a repayment plan, make sure it is in writing and signed. Get your landlord to sign it too, so it’s clear that you have both agreed. 

If your landlord doesn’t agree the the plan, save the money and make a note of how much you suggested paying. This could help if your landlord decides to take action. You can show that you tried to repay what you can. 

Check if you can get Benefits 

If you are on Housing benefits or Universal credit you can check you are getting the right amount on a calculator like Turn2us. You can also ask for it to make payments towards your rent arrears. If you use your benefits to to make the payments you don’t need to worry about them. It also means the Landlord will get all the money they are owed. It can take a bit longer as you will be paying is small amounts. 

Check what other help you can get

They may be other ways to help pay your rent arrears, The ‘discretionary housing payment’ (DHP) for if you get housing Benefit or Universal Credit and you can’t pay your rent. This is extra payments from your local council. 


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