Dealing with your priority debts

Dealing with rent arrears

It is never too early or too late to come to an arrangement to repay your arrears. You may not be behind yet or your landlord may have started court action. Whatever the situation, don't delay. Contact your landlord as soon as possible by writing to them, phoning them or making an appointment to see them.

Make sure your rent arrears have been worked out properly. Get a breakdown of your rent account from your landlord. Check that all the payments you have made have been added to your account. Ask for regular statements. Keep your receipts.

If you have made an offer to pay the arrears, start paying this as soon as possible, even if it hasn't been accepted by your landlord. You also need to pay your normal rent. If you haven't paid for a while, pay as much as you can. ​

There may be benefits, tax credits or Universal Credit that you are not claiming or other ways of increasing your income. You may be able to claim Housing Benefit to reduce the rent you pay. Ask your council's Housing Benefit office for a form. If you are claiming Universal Credit, make sure that you put in the amount of your rent when you make a claim. Pay as much as you can towards your rent until your benefit comes through.

Housing Benefit and Ways of increasing your income for more information.

Extra advice:

threat of bailiffs or harassment

If your landlord threatens to use bailiffs against you to recover rent arrears, contact us for advice. If your landlord threatens to throw you out without going to court or harasses you to make you leave, they may be acting illegally. If this is happening to you, contact your local council. Ask for the person who deals with tenants who are being harassed.

See our fact sheet:



Have you been treated fairly?

If you think you have been treated unfairly, complain to your landlord. If you are still not happy, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service (if you are a housing-association tenant) or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (if you are a council tenant). If you have a private landlord, contact us for advice. ​