If your rent is not paid, the money owed is called 'rent arrears'. Rent arrears are 'priority debts', which means the consequences of not dealing with them are serious - there is a risk of eviction.
Getting into rent arrears can be distressing. But don't ignore the situation. If you don't take action to pay back what you owe, you could end up losing your home.
If you can't pay your rent, you have missed rent payments or you're worried your payments are not being made, sort things out as soon as you can. Even if you have other debts, make sure you prioritise rent arrears.
- make a list of all your debts and put them in order of priority
- write down all your income and expenses - then see how much you've got to pay your debts
- work out how much you can afford to pay to each creditor (a person or organisation you owe money to)
- consider seeking advice from a debt advice agency such as National Debtline (see 'Useful contacts' below)
- most importantly, talk to your landlord - try to reach an agreement about paying off the arrears, but don't agree to pay more than you can afford - one way to do this is through an agreed debt management plan
Remember that once your rent is being paid in full again, the arrears that have built up will still have to be paid off.
If you're on a low income, or having financial problems, check if you qualify for any benefits - such as Housing Benefit, or tax credits. You don't have to be out of work to claim benefits and you could qualify for more than one.
Even if you already receive Housing Benefit, if it doesn't cover your rent you may be able to get some extra money - called 'discretionary housing payment'. Contact the Housing Benefit Department to see if you qualify.
You should also consider seeking advice from a debt advice agency, which should be able to advise you on how to maximise your benefits and about any additional benefits you may be able to claim. They may also be able to assist you with filling out the forms and ensuring that any claims are not held up by incomplete paperwork.