Rent Arrears

Rent Arrears

If you are struggling to pay your rent it is very important that you seek advice as soon as possible.

**Please remember that your rent is a priority.

Balancing your Budget

If your arrears are not just a one off caused by some unusual and temporary circumstance, then you need specialist advice on balancing your budget. This involves looking at all of your income and expenses, including any other regular repayments you have to make for hire purchase agreements or other borrowings.

You can meet an advisor at the West Somerset Advice Bureau, or discuss your position over the telephone with the  National Debtline (external link) or  StepChange Debt Charity (external link).

Sorting out Housing Benefit Payments

Arrears can be caused by late payments of housing benefit.

If you are a private tenant and are having problems with late payments you must contact your local council and talk to the housing benefit team. You must also communicate with you landlord to let them know when you are likely to receive payment.

If your landlord is a housing association, they are expected to work closely with the Housing Benefit team to sort out any problems with late payment of benefit. You should contact your Estates Officer.

Making an arrangement with your landlord

Keep in touch with your landlord. Open and read their letters. Tell them what you are thinking of doing. In general, it is better for your landlord to come to a new arrangement with you to regularly pay back the full rent and/or arrears than it is for them to force you out. They are less likely to get a possession order from the courts if you are making realistic proposals about how to get the situation under control.

There are three things you must do:

• Work out how much you are going to pay off each week or month from the arrears.

• Put your proposal in writing to your landlord, setting out how you have worked out what you want to do.

• Make a regular payment, however small, in addition to the full rent due. This will show that you are willing to solve the problem, and may count in your favour if the matter goes to court.

Court Action

If you are in rent arrears and you do not make a satisfactory arrangement to clear them, your landlord may seek a Possession Order through the courts, so that you can be evicted.

If you are worried about court action, or how to deal with your landlord, you can get advice from Shelter (Somerset Housing Aid Centre) (external link).

If you are issued a Notice Requiring Possession you should contact the Council's Housing department as soon as possible to discuss the situation with a Housing Officer and to establish what options are available to you.