When rent is not paid to a landlord as agreed, this is known as rent arrears. A failure to address this can result in eviction from your property.
Missing just one payment can mean that you are in arrears until the debt has been paid. You cannot be evicted straight away if you have fallen behind on your rent, and the landlord will need to follow an eviction process, including giving you a ‘notice to quit’. You have the right to try and negotiate with the landlord at any stage of the process, so it can be important to keep trying.
If you signed a tenancy agreement with someone else, then you are collectively responsible for the rent and the arrears. If one does not pay, then the other will have to pay for them. If you live together but have separate tenancy agreements, then you only need to pay for the rent that you agreed to and you are not responsible for anyone else.
When things happen in life and you are not able to pay your rent, it can be tempting to try and hide, but this will not make the problem go away and can often make things worse. It is advisable to speak to your landlord straight away to inform them of the situation. This allows you to work out what your next steps should be and can foster better relations with your landlord through being open and honest.
Once you start to talk to your landlord, it may be possible to organise some form of repayment plan with them. Depending on your situation and what you are able to offer, you may be able to spread the amount that you owe across future payments, which can be easier to manage than attempting to find a lump sum.
This could be paid weekly or monthly, but the details should be written down and it is important that you stick to it. Your landlord does not have to agree to a payment plan, but it can often be easier than an eviction process.
If you fall into arrears, it is important to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Citizens Advice can tell you what your rights are, whilst the local council and Universal Credit may be able to help you with your financial situation.
Getting into rent arrears means that you have broken the terms of your tenancy agreement and your landlord may have the right to evict you. They will serve you with a written notice giving you a date by which you need to have left the property. If you fail to do so, the landlord can then apply to the courts to have you evicted.
If you live in the same property as your landlord, they may not need to get a court order to evict you.
If your landlord has served you notice and you have not vacated the property then then can apply to the court for a court order. You will be sent court papers telling you when and where you need to appear.
Once in court, your landlord can then ask for a possession order which requires you to leave your home by a certain date. If this is granted and you do not leave the landlord can then ask the court for a warrant of possession. At this point, you will be sent a notice of eviction by the bailiffs, stating when the eviction will take place.
If you are taken to court, you could also have a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against you, which will show on your credit history.
Times can be hard, so if you are struggling to pay your rent, there are schemes in place to help you. It may be possible to apply to Universal Credit for extra money to help pay your rent. This is available if you are on a low income, have savings less than £16,000, rent a home and live in the UK.
You may have to claim Housing Benefit instead if you and your partner have reached State Pension age or have been receiving Pension Credit since before 15th May 2019. It also applies if you live in temporary accommodation, your landlord is a county council, registered charity, voluntary organisation or housing association who gives you care or support.
There are a number of charities in existence to help people with rent arrears issues. The Turn2us grant search tool can help you to find anyone who may be able to help.
If you have got into rent arrears, you might find it beneficial to get legal representation. They can help you to respond correctly to a formal notification of legal action and they can inform you of what your rights are so that you are not subject to any unlawful action.
If you are unable to pay your rent, negotiating with your landlord can be difficult and intimidating. A solicitor can help you to do this through dispute resolution or mediation techniques to try and find a solution that is beneficial for all parties.
In some cases, an attempt to evict a tenant may be unfair, and a solicitor will be required to challenge this. This may have been done unlawfully, or you may have been a victim of harassment or discrimination which a solicitor can help you to challenge correctly.
There are many reasons why you can fall into rent arrears, but the best solution is to try to prevent it from happening. This means that you need to do some careful budgeting, by looking at your income and putting the cost of your rent as the first outgoing. You can then look at what you have left and work out how to budget accordingly from here.
Knowing your rights can help you to avoid rent arrears. Many tenants find themselves in arrears when their rent is increased, and they are no longer able to afford it. If you know what your rights are, you will be better placed to know whether your landlord is entitled to increase your rent and when this should happen so that you can plan around it or challenge any attempts to do this unlawfully.
At Lovedays Solicitors, we have a team of experienced legal professionals who can help you if you get into rent arrears. We can offer sensitive and pertinent advice to help you deal with the situation and try to find the best possible resolution.
You will be in arrears as soon as you miss your first rental payment. However normally you would have to miss more than one month’s rental payment before lawful action may be taken against you.
A landlord can claim interest on any outstanding rent. This should be stipulated in the lease agreement and could be 1% above the bank base rate or a set amount.
If you are taken to court by your landlord, a judge may award a possession order with costs, which allows them to recover some of their expenses from you. This tends to be fixed costs rather than the actual expense of the legal proceedings.
If you don’t know your leasehold from your freehold, then get our Free Conveyancing Guide. It contains details about the steps you will need to take with any property transactions. The Guide giving you detailed guidance on what your lawyer will be doing for you and what to look out for.
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