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Tackling your debts

Dealing with eviction due to rent arrears – Part 2

Posted 06 November 2015

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If you’ve fallen behind on your rent, and you’re now facing eviction, here’s what you should do.

Yesterday, in part one of this three-part blog, we looked at how you may have ended up in rent arrears to begin with. Today, we’ll look at the steps you can take to try to resolve the situation if it’s come about because of a drop in your income that’s not related to benefit delays. So, let’s start off with what you should do if you receive a letter telling you you’re in rent arrears.  

Step 1 – Check, check and check again. If you’ve received a letter telling you that you are behind with your rent, the first thing you need to do is check to make sure that what they are claiming you owe, is the same amount that you believe is owing. If it’s not, you need to contact your landlord and ask them to confirm how they’ve arrived at their figure.

Step 2 – Sit down and create a budget. Once you have detailed knowledge of what’s coming in and going out of your household each month, you’ll be able to work out whether you can afford to pay a little extra on top of your rent to pay off your arrears.

It’ll also allow you to see where you may be leaking money – we can help you with that too, just read this blog Are you leaking money – Part 1 – and come up with ways of plugging those leaks and getting hold of your finances again. You may find that all you need to do is to cut out some unnecessary spending, and now you can afford a little extra each month. If you can, you should propose this to your landlord.

Step 3 – Check to see if you are entitled to any benefits you’re not already claiming. If you are missing out on a vital benefit payment, it could be just the amount you need to stop yourself from falling further into arrears with your rent and get you back onto an even financial keel. You can find out what benefits you might be entitled to using the governments benefit calculator.

If you find you are entitled to some extra money each month, add this into your budget and see if it alters the outcome. Maybe you didn’t think you’d be able to pay anything extra each month, but now with the help of the benefit, you can. If you’d like to find out more about benefits and whether you’re entitled to any, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.  

Step 4 – Speak to your landlord. It may sound obvious, but speaking to your landlord may resolve the situation without the need for it to go any further. They are just people, like you and I, so you may find that when you explain the situation to them, tell them how you’ll pay extra each month, and how you plan to prevent the same thing happening again, they may be more than happy to agree to your proposal. No matter how unlikely you think it might be, you really need to give them the chance to listen to you before writing this option off.

Social housing landlords

If your landlord is the council or your home is a social housing association-owned property, they are obliged to help you in any way they can. So, they must try their best to come to an affordable agreement with you, before even thinking about taking any further action.

They must also support you with exploring whether you can make a claim for housing benefit, if you are not doing so already. And, if you are already on housing benefit, they’ll look into whether you need the discretionary housing payment, commonly known as a DHP payment, until you are in a position to pay the rent, in full, by yourself again.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that they are not able to evict you, without first finding you an alternative property to live in – you will not be made homeless. 

So, if your landlord has agreed to your proposal to pay that’s a weight of your mind. However, if you’re in the position where your landlord hasn’t accepted your proposal to pay, or you’re not able to pay back what you owe, tomorrows blog, part three, is for you. We’ll explain what happens next and how to find help.

If you are in immediate danger of being evicted, give us a call to see how we can help you. You can use any of the contact us links on the left of the page. Or you can get free and impartial advice from the Money Advice Service.

 

 

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.