Stop, breathe and don’t panic. If you can’t afford rent, it can feel like your whole world is about to come crashing down. Don’t stress, you’re not going to be living on the streets. There are plenty of genuine reasons why you could be short this month. How you handle this situation has a huge impact on your future in your current rental. Here’s what you need to know and how to resolve the issue.
If you’re likely to be short of money, the first thing to do is to look at your budget. What money have you got coming in and what money do you have to pay out? Is there any possibility of offering a partial payment to your landlord?
Rent is far more important than a new haircut or the expensive steak dinner you’re planning. If there are any opportunities to cut down your expenditure, do it. Unfortunately, this can be more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes tough sacrifices have to be made. It’s important to ensure you have enough money to actually survive. Food and everyday essentials come first.
If you’ve drawn up a full budget and you definitely can’t afford to pay your rent, it’s time to talk to your landlord.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. It’s always unpleasant to explain to someone that you can’t make a payment. Forget your pride and be honest. Explain the situation.
When explaining to your landlord that you can’t afford rent, there is some vital information they need to know:
Remember, landlords are people too. They will understand if you’ve fallen on hard times, it’s better to be open and honest. Depending on the landlord, their reaction will vary. Don’t stress, they can’t immediately evict you. There is a formal process in place for this type of issue.
Depending on how your conversation with the landlord went, there may be a simple resolution already in place. No matter what happens, expect to receive a formal demand letter from the landlord. This letter will request payment from you and make it clear that legal action is a possibility. Don’t panic, this is normal. This is a formal procedure the landlord is putting in place in case you continually fail to make payment.
If you still haven’t paid 14 days after the rent is due, the landlord can send a letter to your guarantor (if you have one). Again, communication with your guarantor is vital. You may be able to seek help from a close friend or loved one. Don’t let your guarantor be surprised by your rent arrears.
If you’ve gone a month without paying and a second payment is due, you officially have two months of rent arrears. This means the landlord (under the Housing Act 1988) can apply to reclaim their property. They can serve a Section 8 Notice which is a formal notification that the landlord wishes to take you to court if you don’t pay the arrears within the next 14 days.
This may seem obvious but if you have rent arrears, the landlord can legally keep your deposit. This may not recover all the owed rent but it could be helpful if you’re entirely unable to make payment.
We know that finances can be a huge burden at times. Unpredictable situations can turn your life upside down. Debt is a hugely challenging issue for many people. Don’t struggle on your own. There are plenty of debt charities like StepChange out there who can help put you back on course. If you’re struggling to talk to your landlord about arrears, they can help.
Being open and honest with your landlord about your financial issues can make you feel a lot better about the situation. You may even be able to avoid those sleepless nights. Remember, landlords don’t want the hassle of taking you to court or evicting you. Try to come to an amicable resolution that keeps all parties happy.
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