What support is available to renters struggling to pay rent

Asking your landlord for help can be a good start

With the cost of living crisis renters falling into arrears and then being evicted is one of the main reasons for many becoming homeless.

Many landlords and employers would be open to helping at this time of the year, but you will need to let them know you how.

A few small steps could have a big impact and help stop more people being forced into homelessness.

Charities such as Shelter and Crisis are available to help support those in need.

Rent arrears?

If you fall into rent arrears, see if you can figure out a repayment plan together with your landlord.

Discuss what you afford to pay each month. It can help to be open with what family members can support you, employment and what other financial responsibilities you have.

Financial support options?

As a tenant you can claim Universal Credit if you meet the eligibility criteria.

If you are already receiving benefits, your local Jobcentre can help manage rent costs. Rent can be paid directly to the landlord.

Signpost them to Help to Rent schemes

Some Help to Rent schemes are designed to help renters with their current tenancy, while others can help them find and secure a new rental home.

The Renting Ready training course from Crisis is one option for those moving into their first rental home. It‘s a way for people to develop their independent living skills and learn how to find and keep a long-term home.

Use a proper mediation service

If you are finding it hard to reach an agreement, you can access mediation services from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

The NRLA can provide mediation services and advice on all tenancy-related matters.

Let your local authority know if you receive a mandatory eviction notice

If you can’t resolve the build-up of unpaid rent and need to receive  a mandatory eviction notice, let your local authority know as soon as possible.

Your landlord/agent can also do this for you and can avoid being pushed into homelessness.

The council’s Housing Options team will contact get in touch, offer support and make sure a safe place to live is arranged once you move out.

Securing a rental home?

Rejecting a tenancy application because someone is receiving benefits counts as a discriminatory practice.

A tenant who is receiving benefits or Universal Credit can provide reliable and consistent payments.

Keep in mind that the amount of Universal Credit tenants receive will equal whichever is lower: the rent or the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate.

Have a guarantor ready

Many landlords ask tenants to have a guarantor, your guarantor must often earn three times the rental amount, but not everyone has access to this kind of guarantor.

You can have more than one guarantor, although this is not always favourable with many landlords.

Your guarantor will still need to pass a credit check and provide proof of their income, savings or other financial details.

Paying deposit in instalments

Being able to pay the deposit for your tenancy tenancy in stages can help ease the financial burden of paying several months’ worth of rent all at once.

You can put a signed written agreement in place detailing when the full amount will be paid by.

Your deposit is protected within 30 days of the first payment, even if it’s not the full amount.

There are also zero deposit schemes available which some landlords may be open to. Note that this is an annual policy, so could add up over time to more than the original deposit.

Ease rent-in-advance requirements

Rent-in-advance can be a huge barrier for people looking to enter into a tenancy, as it’s often up to 6 months rent.

Your landlord could be flexible in the amount of rent-in-advance a tenant is required to pay.

Offer longer or open-ended tenancies

Requesting longer or open-ended tenancies from the outset (more than 12 months if possible).

This increases stability in the tenure and means they are less likely to be pushed into homelessness.

Make property adjustments for disabilities

landlords could be open to making adjustments to the property if a tenant has a disability. landlords can find funding for small works through Disabled Facilities Grants.

Be open to pets

many landlords are more open to allowing pets in the property, even if they do not already, an insurance policy could be necessary or a slightly higher rent can be requested.

Landlords can’t legally issue a blanket ban on pets, but can say ‘no’ if they think the pet will cause damage or disruption to the neighbours.

Get support from a letting agent

 As a landlord letting agents can be a valuable helping hand, both in finding a new tenant and managing a tenancy.

They can make sure a tenant is suitable by checking references and their Right to Rent. They can also set up the tenancy agreement so you’re both protected.

And once a tenant is in, with management or rent collection they’ll be able to advise you on the options if the tenant’s situation changes or if they struggle to pay rent on time.

What else can you do?

Everyone is facing higher living costs at the moment, and people who rent tend to feel the squeeze more than others.

To help ease the cost of living for renters other options include: