rent arrears advice
Experience Tips & Tricks

What to Do When Faced with Debt Arrears

Falling into debt is easy, but it can seem like an uphill struggle trying to pull yourself out of it. If you have fallen behind on your rent, there are steps you must take to avoid losing your home.

Contact Your Landlord

It is imperative you contact your landlord before you miss a debt repayment. By talking to your landlord before the rent is due, you may be able to make arrangements to pay back what you owe in a different timeframe. If you have missed several rent payments, you should check exactly how much you owe instead of accepting your landlord’s estimate.

Find Out if You’re Responsible for the Rent Arrears

There are times when a tenant may not be required to pay rent arrears. While a landlord might be keen to receive the money they are owed, it is essential you identify whether it is you who actually owes the money.

You may not be responsible for a rent payment if:

  • Your landlord has failed to record your rent payments
  • If another tenant owes their share of the rent
  • You are not a tenant
  • You’re not receiving your entitled amount of Housing Benefit
  • You overtook the tenancy from another tenant and a landlord is ordering you to repay their share of the rent

Review Your Tenancy Agreement

As we have just said, there may be times when you are not responsible for making a debt payment. You should, therefore, refer to your written tenancy agreement, if you have one. If the tenancy agreement only has your name on it, it will be your responsibility to pay the rent and any arrears.

If the tenancy agreement has your name on it and no-one else’s, despite the fact you live with other people, you will still be responsible for paying all of the rent and arrears. The people living in the property will be classed as your subtenants, which means it is your responsibility to collect their rent. If your subtenants are refusing to pay the rent they owe, you can ask them to leave the home or seek advice.

No Written Tenancy Agreement

If you have agreed to pay a landlord rent then this will be classed as a tenancy agreement, even if you do not have a written tenancy agreement in place. You will, therefore, have to pay the money you owe. However, a landlord would struggle to prove how much you agreed to pay them. It also makes it easier for someone else who lives in the property to miss a rent payment, as you will find it hard to prove they reside at that address.

Weekly Tenancy Agreement

If you are renting from a private landlord on a weekly basis, a landlord must provide a rent book. If they fail to do so then they are committing a criminal offence. However, they do not have to provide a rent book if the tenancy is based on a fixed term contract or monthly arrangement.

Financial Help

You may have a right to housing benefit if renting from a landlord. If you are currently receiving housing benefit, we recommend you contact the Housing Benefit Office to see if you’re receiving the correct amount. Don’t hesitate to contact them if there’s been an unexpected delay in receiving housing benefit, which may have caused rent arrears.

On top of housing benefit, you may be entitled to additional financial help that might help you make a rent payment. For example, if you are in employment, you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, if you have children. It never hurts to check whether you might be entitled to additional government benefits, which could help you prevent or escape debt.

When it comes to debt, don’t suffer in silence. Take action and see what services are available to help eliminate your financial worries.


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