Dealing with rent arrears in social housing

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you've missed a rent payment, you're in 'arrears' - this means you owe rent to your council or housing association landlord.

Your housing officer will normally write to you first. If you don’t reply, they might phone you or visit your home.

Try to reach an agreement with your landlord

Don’t ignore them. It’s much better to talk to your housing officer straight away and explain why you’re finding it hard to pay your rent.

They’ll normally try to help you find a way of paying back what you owe, so ask if you can pay off your arrears in smaller amounts.

The council or your housing association landlord might also be able to help you claim Housing Benefit - if you’re eligible for it.

Rent arrears are a ‘priority debt’. You need to pay them before debts like credit cards because the consequences can be more serious - for example you could lose your home or find it hard to get housing in the future.

If you have more than one debt, you should read our 'get help with debt' guide - or talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’re being evicted

You'll normally only be evicted for rent arrears by your social housing landlord if you don’t try to arrange to pay back what you owe.


Talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you're about to lose your home.

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