How to avoid Rent Arrears

Information and advice about avoiding getting into rent arrearsIf you are worried that you may be at risk of getting into arrears with your rent you need to treat this as a very serious issue. If you do fall behind with your payments you could face being evicted from your home.

There may be a number of reasons why you are struggling to pay your rent. Your income may have recently fallen or your living expenses in other areas may have increased. In addition a common reason for getting into difficultly is that you are prioritising the payment of other debts over your rent.

Whatever the reason for your payments being under pressure there are a number of things that you can consider to make sure your rent is paid on time and you avoid getting into arrears.

1. Try to improve your income to be better able to pay your rent

Clearly it is not easy to simply increase your income. However one of the areas you should look at is whether or not you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.

If your income is low you may be entitled to Working Tax Credits or if you have children Child tax Credits. You might also be entitled to Housing Benefit which is specifically designed to help you pay your rent if you are already getting certain benefits such as Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credits.

One of the best ways to find out whether or not you are entitled to receive any benefits that you are not already claiming is to use the Government’s on-line benefits adviser tool.

If you are entitled to receive some extra benefits each month this could make the difference between falling behind with your rent or keeping you head above water.

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2. Try to reduce your other living expenses to protect your rent payments

If you are struggling to pay your rent then as well as trying to improve your income it is very important that you also consider whether you can make any reductions to the amount you spend in other areas of your living expenses. If you are spending your money on things that are unnecessary you could cut these out and divert the cash you save towards your rent.

The first thing you will need to do is review what you are spending your money on by analysing your living expenses budget. You should list all of the things that you spend money on during the month. By putting everything down on paper you should be able to quickly identify if there are any areas of expenditure you can reduce.

As you review each expenditure item it is very important not to kid yourself and make unrealistic reductions. If you do this then you will never be able to follow through with these levels of expenditure in the real world. If you decide that there is simply nowhere you can reduce your monthly spend then trying to do so could land you in even more difficulty.

You may find it useful to use our living expenses guide to help you put together your living expenses budget to ensure that you include all the areas of expenditure you are likely to need.

3. Consider a debt management solution to reduce your debt repayments

If you have reviewed your living expenditure budget and there is simply nothing you can do to reduce any of your monthly expenditures the next thing you should consider is reducing the payments to your debts.

One of the main reasons that people get behind with their rent is that they are struggling to maintain personal debt repayments and prioritising these over rent payments. However by taking a different approach and actually reducing the payments you make to any debts you have such as credit cards, personal loans and even payday loans you can free up the cash you need to ensure that your rent can be paid on time each month.

The question of course is how do you do this? At the end of the day if you simply reduce or stop paying your debt repayments your creditors will start threatening you with legal action.

The answer is to use a debt management solution. This type of solution protects your rent payments in the sense that it means that you only pay what you can afford towards your debts after your essential living expenses including your rent have been budgeted for.

There are three main debt solutions to chose from. The most common is a DMP (Debt Management Plan) which basically reduces your monthly debt payments to fit the amount you can afford. However one of the downsides of the DMP solution is that the time it takes to repay your debts is significantly extended.

To avoid repaying debt for many years the alternative solution to consider is an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement). The IVA also allows you to repay what you can afford after rent and other essentials are accounted for but lasts for just 5 years.

The last option to think about is bankruptcy. Generally speaking this is the debt solution that people think they should try to avoid. However this is really just because they do not properly understand it. In fact if you are renting bankruptcy can be an excellent solution as your home is not at risk and you only have to pay towards your debt if you can afford to do so and then only for a maximum of three years.

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