Send in the Cavalry

Falling behind with rent? Our Agony Aunt says it’s time to “Call in the Cavalry”

Thousands of us are struggling to pay our rent. As the ban on evictions is lifted, it’s time to put plans in place

Dear Anna, I’ve been falling behind with my rent since lockdown. I am now back at work but only on part-time hours. I haven’t told my landlord yet because I’m too scared of being thrown out so I am avoiding him. What should I do?
Louise

Don’t wait. What are the options?

Thanks for getting in touch with us, Louise. We know this is an issue that a lot of us are facing right now.

First of all, if you feel you are slipping into arrears with your rent, it’s a good idea to speak to your landlord. (If you rent from the council, or a housing association or charity, they should be ready to offer support.) See if you can negotiate a rent reduction or a repayment plan. If you have a good relationship with your landlord they should be understanding. It’s not easy to evict someone and it costs them money, so your landlord should want to work with you to find an alternative.

Second, get as much advice as you can. Contact your local Citizens Advice service where an advisor can help you explain what’s going on to your landlord. They can also give you advice on your legal position and much more. Check out Shelter’s website, they have loads of helpful online info for tenants. (As the law is slightly different in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, note the links through to the right advice at the top!)

Find out if there is a local housing support agency in your area where you can go for free advice and other housing services. (Our Quids In Centre teams have good contacts, for example, with P3 in Gloucestershire, Reach in in Bath, Newdawn Foundation in London.) Just search online for your nearest one.

Next, make sure you are getting all the financial help you are entitled to. If your income has reduced, but you’re still working, you may be entitled to extra benefits. There are also benefits specifically related to Covid. Do a benefits check on Turn 2Us or Entitled to. (More advice here.)

If you have health issues, including mental health, you can apply for additional housing benefits. You might also be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is for anyone who needs more help with housing costs and is currently claiming housing benefit or Universal Credit. Contact your local council to find out more.

Your local council should also have a housing options team who can answer any questions you may have. Also, make sure you aren’t paying the full rate of council tax if you qualify for a reduced rate. Your council may also have a homelessness prevention fund which can support you around your tenancy.

Lastly, you can speak to your local community law centre, if you have one. Sometimes they have a housing lawyer on hand to give free legal advice.

If you think your money problems are temporary and you can see your situation changing, try doing a money health-check using the Quids in! Future-Proof Finance Quiz.

Whatever you do, do not move out of your home unless you have somewhere else to go.

So to recap:

  1. Speak to your landlord
  2. Call in the cavalry – get as much advice as you can, from as many people as possible
  3. Make sure you are getting all the benefits and financial support you are entitled to

I really hope this helps you feel a bit more in control.

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