This story is aimed at tenants concerned over rent arrears.

Make no mistake – if you fail to make your rent payments to your landlord you will immediately fall into rent arrears. Ignoring this will only make the problem worse, so the best advice is to take action as quickly as you can. Don’t make the common mistake of simply burying your head in the sand hoping your problems will go away. You may be facing other debts too, so it’s important to ensure you repay them in the correct order to safeguard your home.

Are you responsible for the rent arrears?

In some cases you may not be responsible for paying all of the rent arrears back personally. Check if either of the following apply to you:

  • Do you live with someone else?

    – If you signed a ‘joint tenancy’ with someone else when you moved in, you will share responsibility of paying the rent. However if one tenant doesn’t pay their arrears, you will be responsible for paying their share.
    – If you had separate tenancy agreements signed individually then you will only need to pay the rent you agreed. You will not be responsible for another tenant’s arrears in this situation.


  • Did you take over someone else’s tenancy?

    – The act of taking over someone’s tenancy is known as ‘succession’ or ‘assignment’. You are only ever responsible for paying rent from the date your tenancy started. If you think you’re being charged for a previous tenant’s rent arrears remind your landlord of the date you moved in.

Check the balance matches up

It is important to check that any amount your landlord claims you owe matches your own records. You can check this via:

  • your bank statements
  • receipts (if your rent is paid in cash)
  • rent book/card (not everyone will have one of these)

It is always good to keep your records clear and up to date in case of situations like these. If you do not have any of the above, you can contact your landlord for the records.

Agree how to repay your rent arrears

Try speaking to your landlord about why you didn’t pay your rent on time. You may be able to come to an agreement on how to pay it back with a repayment plan. A repayment plan means you can make smaller payments over a longer period of time to get back on track. Although you will still have to pay the rent arrears back in full, this could take some pressure off. Because a landlord can start the legal process to evict you for not paying, it is important you try to solve the problem quickly. The landlord may be willing to keep you as a tenant if you can agree on a fair way to make repayments. If you do agree on a repayment plan with your landlord, write up a contract or at least have it put in writing.

Other ways to get help with rent arrears

If you receive Housing Benefit  or Universal Credit but can’t pay your rent, you may be able to get a ‘Discretionary Housing Repayment’ (DHP). DHP is an additional payment you can receive from your local council. To find free debt advice, check out the Money Advice Service here.

We hope you found this article useful. If you need any more advice on rental arrears, Slater and Brandley are waiting to help. Please don’t hesitate to call us on 0115 981 9651.

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