Can’t pay your rent? What to do

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  • Can’t pay the rent? What to do

    This really depends on whether this is likely to be a short-term issue or a long-term problem.

    If it’s short-term, say you’re waiting for your student loan, a benefits payment or your waiting for your pay cheque, it’s vital to let your landlord know in advance that your rent will be late.

    Most landlords will be fine if you can tell the when you expect to pay, but if you simply skip the rent payment with no explanation they’re likely to be far less sympathetic.

    If this is likely to be a long-term issue, for example you’ve lost your job or you’ve realised that you just can’t afford the rent on your income, don’t panic. You have several options.

    The first step is to see whether you are entitled to any benefits. You should also contact the housing department of your local authority to see if you’re entitled to local housing allowance (LHA).

    If you are entitled to benefits, you will need to inform your landlord as some aren’t allowed to let to tenants on benefits and some might need to make their insurance company aware of the change.

    If your landlord tells you they can’t let to tenants on benefits due to their buy-to-let mortgage restrictions, it’s worth asking them double check with their lender as some can exercise discretion in certain circumstances.

    You should also seek help from Citizen’s Advice, which has lots of tips for dealing with rent arrears and other debts on its website.

    Once you know what your options are, you should talk to your landlord to explain your circumstances and explain how you plan to cover the rent and see whether they are able to give you time to get yourself sorted.

    It will help if you have a re-payment plan you can explain to them. Depending on how handy you are, you could always offer to carry out general maintenance and repairs around the property to curry favour!

    If your income won’t cover the rent and you’re getting into debt as a result, you could ask your landlord (nicely!) if they are able to decrease the rent a little. Some will, some won’t, but they might be more prepared to do so if you have been a good tenant this far, or you live in an area with low tenant demand, or the property is less than desirable meaning the landlord will struggle to re-let it.

    Alternatively, you could consider taking in a lodger. You will need to get your landlord’s permission first, otherwise you might be breaking the terms of your lease, which could result in your eviction.

    You don’t necessarily need a spare room to take in a lodger. If you have a largish kitchen where you can eat, you might be able to turn the living room into a bedroom instead. You can try selling this idea to your landlord by pointing out that it will avoid rent arrears and they won’t have the cost and hassle of finding a new tenant.

    If you do sub-let, you will effectively become the tenant’s landlord and you will be automatically responsible for ensuring that they pay the rent and for their behaviour within the property.

    Find a flatmate on SPAREROOM.co.uk” target=”_blank”>Spareroom is a good place to advertise for lodgers and it’s free!

    You can earn up to £7,500 a year tax-free from a lodger under the government’s Rent a Room scheme.

    Alternatively, you could take the occasional paying guest, via Airbnb. Again, you will need your landlord’s permission, otherwise you might be breaking your lease.

    It’s also worth looking to see if you can cut your bills. For instance, you might be able to save ££s just switching energy supplier, which tenants have a right to do with some restrictions.

    Whatever you do, don’t stick your head in the sand, that’s never a good tactic!

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