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Rent arrears
Rent Arrears:
What To Do If You've Fallen Behind

If you are having problems with rent arrears or with late rent payments then you may well be worried about how your landlord will react to the situation. It's all too easy to get into financial difficulties that make it hard for you to pay your rent or to pay it on time, but you also don't want to have to deal with the stress and anxiety of worrying that your landlord will have you evicted because of it. So, make sure to—

  • Take control of the situation before your rent arrears get out of hand - open lines of communication with your landlord as soon as possible.

  • Not ignore the fact that you have rent arrears or are making late rent payments in the hope that the situation will go away as it won't. Ignoring the situation is simply more likely to lead to your landlord taking legal action to recover his/her money.

The first step, then, is to talk to your landlord and explain the difficulties that you are having. This applies whether you rent from a private landlord or whether you are a council tenant. You may well find that your landlord will take a sympathetic view. He/she may, for example:

  • Give you time to sort the situation out; or,

  • Let you pay him/her back a little at a time until the situation is back to normal.

But, you'll only get this sympathetic approach if you approach your landlord early on.

From your own perspective, it is important to try and take control of rent arrears or late rent payments simply because being evicted is a distinct possibility unless you take action. And, if you do find yourself being evicted, then you may well find it much harder to be accepted as a tenant elsewhere. Making late rent payments and having rent arrears in your name does not make you a good option for most landlords.

What, then, are your options?

In basic terms, your best option is to talk to your landlord about negotiating a rent arrears repayment schedule. Local councils may be more disposed to do this than private landlords as they have systems in place to manage this kind of issue.  Do bear in mind that a private landlord may not want to take legal action to recover his/her money or have you evicted and may be happy to work something out with you.

If you do not at least try to reach an agreement with your landlord, then he/she might go to court to start an eviction process over the rent arrears.  In this instance, the court may levy a money judgement against you that tells you what to repay and when.  What's more, if you do get taken to court then you may also be liable for court costs, which is another reason to try and negotiate a deal with your landlord about your late rent payments before it comes to this stage.

At the same time, you may also find it useful to take some independent advice from the Citizen's Advice Bureau.  This organization will be able to help you work out how best to handle the situation especially if you cannot come to an agreement with your landlord on repaying your rent arrears or coming to an agreement over late rent payments.

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