I need help with my rent
Suddenly realising you canât pay the rent is a scary feeling and it can be shocking to realise you may be facing eviction. Weâve listed all your options and the places you can go to get help, so you can start getting control of the situation.Â Â
I canât pay my rent this month, what should I do?Â
Talk to someone you trust and ask for a loan to get you through the rough patch. Donât feel scared or ashamed â rising rents and shrinking paycheques mean many people are struggling financially. It takes courage to speak up but itâs a vital step to resolving the problem.
If possible, avoid telling your landlord if itâs just a single monthâs payment â you donât want to give them the impression youâre having problems as this will add more stress.
I havenât paid my rent for a while and Iâm scared Iâll be evicted
If it looks like youâre facing a longer-term struggle to pay your rent, you have to consider all the options â and you should definitely tell your landlord this time, as they may be able to set a payment plan to help you get through a tricky time.
Itâs also really important you get advice from a housing adviser immediately. You can also get support from our helpline. There are special procedures any landlord has to follow before they can evict tenants – so keep all your paperwork and records to prove your case.
Donât just ignore the problem â it will only get worse. Most likely, youâll have to move to a cheaper area or larger house share to keep costs down. If you are already living very cheaply, you may need to apply for housing benefit.
What is housing benefit?Â
Housing benefit is paid by councils to help people who are on benefits or a low income, pay their rent. Because of high rent costs, many people rely on housing benefit even though they are working.
Thereâs no set amount â what you get depends on whether you rent from a landlord, council or housing association, what your income is and the area you live in. In some areas housing benefit has been replaced by Universal Credit.
How does it work?
To claim housing benefit, apply to your local council, or do it at the same time as you claim any other benefits.
The council will look at the amount of rent and service charges you pay, or if you have other adults living with you. They should make a decision within 14 days but it can take longer. You may be able to get a âpayment on accountâ to tide you over.
How do I claim if Iâm renting privately?
If you pay rent to a private landlord, your housing benefit is called local housing allowance (LHA).
If youâre privately renting, are under 35, single and donât have children, youâre only allowed to claim the cost of renting a room in a shared house â not your own flat or house. This rule applies even if you canât find shared accommodation – but there are exceptions, for example, if youâre severely disabled.
The so-called âbedroom taxâ means youâre only allowed a certain number of bedrooms and may lose housing benefit for any âspareâ rooms.
Can I get housing benefit if Iâm a student?
You can claim housing benefit if youâre studying for a part-time degree, if youâre under 19 and on a course below degree level, or if you have children. Thereâs more detail here.
Iâm under 18 â can I claim housing benefit?
Yes. But if youâre renting privately and single, the amount you can get is limited. The only exception is if youâre leaving care. If youâre under 18 and homeless, your council have a legal duty to make sure you have a home.
What if my housing benefit isnât enough?
Can I get a loan to help with my rent?
Local councils run loan schemes to help people whoâre struggling. Find your local council here.
Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
If youâre already on housing benefit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This payment helps people who get housing benefit, but are having trouble paying rent. It can be paid weekly or as a lump sum, and can also be backdated.
It is not a long-term answer, because the amount available is limited. Get in touch with your local council to apply.
What else can I do?
If you have to move house because of rising costs, you can get help with your deposit through a ârent bond schemeâ.
Ask your family or friends for support â any help from loved ones wonât affect your benefits. Try negotiating with your landlord to see if they will agree a cheaper rent or accept a delayed rent payment.
- Citizens Advice Bureau offer free help with housing, money and legal problems. Find your local bureau.
- Shelter offers advice on all housing issues. Get advice online or call their housing helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/
- Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.