If You’ve Got Rent Arrears

Are You In Rent Arrears?

Much is made in the current climate of the problems homeowners face in making their mortgage repayments, and the rising numbers of repossessions. What perhaps receives less publicity is the number of tenants who are unable to pay their rent, and so are ending up in rent arrears.

Even though tenants don’t own their home, being evicted over unpaid rent is still a painful experience and can lead to real difficulties in getting somewhere to live in the future.

If you find yourself in difficulties, it’s a good idea (as with all debt) to tell your creditor, in this case your landlord, about the situation. In most cases people who are upfront and honest are likely to receive more sympathetic treatment than those who ignore the situation and let the amount of arrears owed mount up.

Repay Arrears In Instalments

If the arrears have built up for a temporary reason, such as a job loss, which has now been fixed, it should be possible to resume paying your rent in the normal way and to come to an agreement with your landlord about how to clear the arrears over time. If your landlord is willing to negotiate on this issue, then make sure that the amount you agree to repay each month is reasonable – it’s better to pay less every month over a longer period than to promise a sum you’re going to struggle to keep to solidly.

If Your Landlord Refuses To Negotiate

Some landlords aren’t open to negotiation, and insist on going forward with legal proceedings. This is now a serious matter, and you should seek advice from a local debt charity or advice organisation. Your rights will differ depending on what kind of tenancy you have.

Your landlord may sue to force you to repay the arrears in full rather than in instalments, or may apply to the court to have you evicted. In both cases you’re likely to be liable for court fees as well.

Even if your landlord chooses this route, it’s a good idea to set aside some money as if you were making repayments and keep records, which you can then show in court to prove you were willing to repay your landlord over time – this is likely to result in a more favourable outcome for you in any eviction hearings.

Walking Away

Some people in rent arrears feel that the best solution is to simply walk away from the property. Bear in mind though that you’ll still be open to being sued to recover the money you owe, and also that you’ll need to give formal notice to your landlord that you wish to end the tenancy to avoid more arrears building up, and you’ll still be liable for any rent due during the notice period outlined in your tenancy agreement.