It comes as no surprise that falling behind on rent is a huge concern for many. Rent arrears have doubled during the Coronavirus pandemic, along with increased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.
As we bid farewell to the Eviction Ban and Furlough Scheme, more needs to be done to ensure that private renters are supported if they fall short.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help resolve any issues regarding rent payment. But it’s hard to know where to get started. To help you formulate a plan, here are HomeHero’s tips on what you should do if you can’t pay your rent.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
First step? Talk to your landlord. While this may seem off-putting, swiftly informing your landlord of any rent issues will benefit both of you in the long run.
Now more than ever, landlords are encouraged to be more lenient to tenants who cannot make their next rental payment. The Government has stressed the importance of landlords showing support to tenants who may seem their income fluctuate as a result of the pandemic, so don’t be worried.
You should inform them of your current situation, preferably in writing. Explain why you’re going to be late with the rent, and ask for some extra time. You can also highlight how you propose to resolve this, like applying for benefits.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll both be able to formulate a plan of action. This could include:
- Reaching a temporary agreement not to seek possession action for a period of time and instead accept a lower level of rent
- Agreeing on a plan to pay off rent arrears at a later date
In the event that disputes still occur, both landlords and tenants are encouraged to consider mediation. Mediation can be a great choice, as it brings in an independent third party to assist in both people reaching a mutual agreement, without the stress of going to court.
If your landlord shows no signs of flexibility, then it’s advised to pay as much as you can afford. As always, make a record of all correspondences. They will come in handy for when it’s time to…
Ask for Help
You may be able to claim benefits or increase money on your current claims if the pandemic has disrupted your work. To check if you’re eligible, ask yourself these three questions:
- Are you earning less than usual?
- Are you unemployed because you’ve lost your job, facing redundancy, or stopped being self-employed?
- Are you self-isolating or shielding?
If any of the above applies to you, requesting Universal Credit is your next stop. Once you qualify, you can ask for the benefits to be paid directly to your landlord to contribute to paying off the arrears.
However, there’s a chance that this may not cover your monthly rent. If this is the case, you can also go to your local council for support. In response to the pandemic, the Government has made £500m available to fund households who are struggling.
There is also an additional £180m of funding for the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) for councils to distribute to private renters, in order to cover the shortfall of rent. Be sure to speak with your local council to check your eligibility.
In the meantime, you can also request a Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support). Your bill could be reduced by 100%, so it’s a great idea to check this out.
Stick to a Budget
Budgeting can also be a huge help. While it may be difficult, it’s a lot easier than battling through an eviction process. So, it’s a good idea to start cutting back on your expenses while you receive benefits.
To help decide what you could be cutting back on, you could ask yourself these questions:
- We all love a little Netflix, but are you leaking money via any unused subscriptions or memberships?
- Could you cut back on any luxuries, such as getting your hair done, purchasing fancy clothes, or going out for dinner?
- Speaking of dinner, could you reduce how many takeaways you buy and start meal prepping instead?
- Are you on the cheapest tariffs for your monthly bills? Could you save energy by installing new LED lightbulbs?
Communicating with your energy, water, and broadband providers early on is also in your best interest. You’ll be able to get help from most suppliers, whether that be by reducing your bill or giving you more time to pay.
At HomeHero, we understand that, in this climate, making it to your next rent payment can be stressful. But you don’t have to face it alone, as there’s always help available. You just need to reach out.
Time for another? Head to our Property section for more useful articles.
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