If you’ve fallen behind with your rent payments and have built up arrears it’s important to act quickly. You need to treat your rent as a priority because if you don’t pay the arrears it could lead to you being evicted from your home.

Here’s our 4 step guide of what to do if you’re in arrears or struggling with paying your rent:

Step 1: Check who is responsible for paying the rent arrears

It’s important to check who is responsible for paying the rent arrears before paying your landlord any money. If you live with someone else and have a joint tenancy, you are both responsible for the payment of the arrears. If you live with other people but have your own tenancy agreement, then you are responsible for paying this.

Use our tenancy checker to find out what kind of tenancy you have.

Step 2: Check you owe the right amount

It might sound obvious, but make sure the amount that your landlord is saying you owe is correct. Check their total against your own records, like bank statements, receipts and rent book. Look at the payments and add them up to see if they add up correctly. Ask your landlord for a statement of how much rent you’ve paid if you haven’t kept have a record yourself.

If you’re on benefits and these are paid directly to your landlord, get in touch with your local council or the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to find out how much your landlord has been paid.

Step 3: Agree a way to pay your arrears

The first step to getting a payment plan set up, is to speak to your landlord. It might help to tell them the situation you’re in, e.g. you’ve just lost your job, which has led to you being behind on the rent. Never offer to pay more than you can realistically afford. If your landlord agrees to a plan, write the agreement down and ask them to sign it. Keep this document in your records.

If your landlord won’t agree to a repayment plan, save the money yourself and make a note of how much you suggested paying. This may help you if your landlord decides to take action, by showing you’re trying to repay back what you can.

Step 4: Check if you can get benefits

You never know, you might be able to claim benefits to boost your income. They might be able to backdate payments if you’re entitled to them but haven’t been claiming them.

If you’re already getting benefits, check that you are receiving the current payments. You can ask for Universal Credit part payments to be made towards rent arrears. You can set this up through the DWP. Paying arrears through your benefits means you won’t have to worry about making extra payments to the landlord yourself.

If you’re in a sticky situation and need our advice, chat to us online, take a look are our online web advice or give us a call.