Paying off your rent arrears - overview

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

Talk to your landlord straight away if you’re behind with paying your rent. Don’t wait to let it build up.

Ask them how much you owe. Make sure the amount is correct. Look at your bank or building society statements to check:

  • what you’ve paid in the past

  • how many months you haven’t paid rent

Come to an agreement with your landlord

Try to come to an agreement with your landlord. They might let you pay in instalments. You should be realistic about how much you can afford to pay.

Check if you can get financial help


You should check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to - including the right amount of housing benefit.

The DWP can sometimes deduct money from certain benefits and pay it directly to your landlord. But you need to be claiming one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support

  • Pension Credit

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

  • Universal Credit (UC)

Deductions from benefits other than Universal Credit are restricted to a fixed weekly amount of 5%. This means no more than £3.70 can be taken each week. Some landlords won’t accept this rate, so check with your landlord.

If you’re on Universal Credit the deduction can be between 10% and 20% of your standard allowance. 

Find out what to do if your Universal Credit is stopped or reduced.

If your landlord goes to court

If you don’t pay what you owe, your landlord can ask a court to order you to pay the money back. You’ll be sent a form called a claim form. This will tell you how much rent you owe.

If you owe more than £5,000 your landlord could apply to make you bankrupt. They’ll send you a ‘statutory demand’ for the money. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice straight away if you get one.

If your landlord wants to evict you because of rent arrears

Your landlord can’t usually evict you straight away for missed rent payments. They usually have to follow certain rules, including:

  • giving you written notice to leave

  • going to court for a possession order (court order)

Not everyone is entitled to written notice or a court order (eg lodgers), unless they have a contractual agreement that says they are.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help at any stage.

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