Rent arrears in local authority housing

What are rent arrears in local authority housing?

If you are renting your home from a local authority, you agree to pay a weekly rent. This rent is based on your household's income and your ability to pay. If you can’t pay the rent, for whatever reason, you will build up rent arrears.

What should I do if I can’t pay the rent?

If you can’t pay the rent for your local authority housing, you should talk to your local authority immediately to discuss the arrears. The local authority will work with you to find a solution. They can:

  • Reduce your rent if your income decreases, or your circumstances change. For example, if you lose your job, or an adult in the household moves out.
  • Agree a repayment plan with you. This means you will pay off a certain amount of the rent arrears each week in addition to your normal weekly rent.
  • Provide support for you to stay in your home through a tenancy sustainment programme. This programme is aimed at people in rent arrears.
  • Reduce your rent if there is a particular reasons to do so. For example, the local authority can reduce your rent if your household is badly affected by exceptional social factors that make it difficult for it to function or to pay the rent, or if it would cause undue hardship for your household to pay the full rent. This reduction in rent is provided under a hardship clause.

If you don’t arrange to pay off the arrears, you could end up losing your home.

What happens if I don’t pay my rent arrears?

Local authorities are used to dealing with rent arrears issues, so if you fall behind with your payments you should contact them immediately to try and come to a solution. If you don’t contact your local authority about your arrears, the local authority may start the process to evict you.

The local authority cannot evict you unless the District Court feels it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. The local authority must send you a tenancy warning notice about the rent arrears before it begins the process. You can ask for a review of the tenancy warning. If you don’t pay the rent arrears or arrange a repayment plan, the local authority can begin the proceedings to take possession of your home.

If are in rent arrears, you may be unable to:

If you are evicted for rent arrears, you may not be accepted on any local authority housing list again.

Who do I contact if I am in rent arrears?

You should contact the Housing Section of your local authority if you have any issues paying your rent.

You can also contact the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) for advice about rent arrears. MABS is a free, confidential service for people who are having problems with debt and money management.


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Page edited: 25 January 2023