What tenants should do if they can’t afford the rent 17 Apr 2023
As the cost-of-living crisis continues to have a UK-wide impact, some tenants may be struggling to meet their monthly rent and utility payments.
If you’re a tenant and finding it hard to make ends meet at the moment, the first thing to know is that you’re not alone and secondly there is a lot of help available. What’s important is that you address the situation as soon as possible before you fall into rent arrears, as that could lead to eviction, and that’s not a good situation for either you or your landlord.
To help you find out what options are available and work out the best way forward, here are 7 steps to follow:
- Speak to your landlord or managing agent
The first thing to do if you think you might not be able to make a full rent payment is speak to your landlord or managing agent – don’t wait until your rent is overdue. Most are reasonable if you’re up front about a problem and you can discuss how to move forward in a way that works for everyone.
- Is it a short or longer-term problem?
Be honest with yourself about your situation: is this a temporary financial blip or is it likely to be an ongoing affordability issue? We find that most landlords are happy to help a good tenant through a rough patch, particularly if renting long-term, so some sort of “payment plan” can sometimes be agreed.
- Do you need to move to somewhere cheaper?
If you’re simply no longer able to afford to rent your current home, then you may need to find a cheaper property. As long as your tenancy is no longer within a fixed term, you should usually be able to give one month’s notice to leave.
If you’re still within a fixed term, your landlord may agree to release you early. Commonly, landlords insist that tenants pay rent as per their contract until a new tenant moves in, but if you are already in financial difficulty, you may be able to negotiate with your agent or landlord.
- Mediation can help if you find yourself in a tricky position
If you’re having trouble communicating with your agent or landlord or feel they aren’t being reasonable, you can contact Citizens Advice to find out what mediation services are available in your area.
- Can you access any government support via Help for Households?
If you’re currently receiving government benefits or are on a low income and want to find out if you’re entitled to any financial support, visit the Help for Households website. It has details of all the support that’s available to help with the cost of living and also has some tips on how to make savings on your energy bills.
- Could you earn extra income or reduce your expenditure?
Assuming you want to stay in your home, it’s worth carefully going through your monthly expenditure to see if you could cut back anywhere, even temporarily, to help you afford your rent. On the other hand, could you earn more income? If you work office hours, Monday to Friday, could you take on some work in the evenings or at weekends to make ends meet, particularly if this is just a short-term affordability issue? This could be doing something you love, such as working at a local gym or pub or getting paid to do something you enjoy.
If you have concerns about falling behind with your rent, speak to your agent or landlord as soon as possible about resolving the situation – and you can visit the Citizens Advice website for information on dealing with arrears.