If you are at risk of being evicted for rent arrears you may be eligible for the Breathing space scheme which gives you time to get some specialist debt advice.
Before starting court action
Before your landlord takes steps to evict you for rent arrears, they should contact you to talk about:
- the cause of your arrears
- your financial circumstances
- your entitlement to benefits
- how you plan to repay the arrears.
You should try to come to an agreement with your landlord about paying any arrears. Make sure anything you agree is affordable.
If necessary, your landlord should help you with any applications for housing benefit, universal credit (housing costs) or a discretionary housing payment. Your landlord should not start eviction proceedings if:
- you have applied for one of these benefits
- it is likely that you are eligible for a payment
- you can make up any arrears not covered by housing benefit, universal credit or a discretionary housing payment.
If you are getting other benefits, your landlord should help you apply to have your arrears paid directly from those benefits.
Your landlord should send you a rent statement every 4 months saying how much rent is due. The statement should set out all the payments received, whether these were paid by you, housing benefit or a discretionary housing payment. It should also have a clear running total of the arrears.
For a joint tenancy, each of the tenants should be contacted separately to make sure that everyone is aware of the problem.
After giving you notice
After giving you a notice your landlord should continue to make attempts to contact you to discuss your arrears. They must do this before beginning court proceedings.
Your landlord should hold off on court action if you agree to pay your current rent and a reasonable amount towards your arrears and you stick to this arrangement.
Once court action has started
Once your landlord has started court action, at least ten days before the court hearing, your landlord should:
- give you up-to-date rent statements
- give you notice of the court date, and advise you that your home is at risk if you do not attend
- tell you what they know about any claim you have made for housing benefit or help with your housing costs under universal credit.