Falling behind on your rent can cause your very living situation to be threatened. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid an eviction by seeking assistance. Tenants can request help from their landlord, apply for government benefits, or seek assisitance through the help of local charities.
If you have been presented a notice by your landlord, then the eviction process has commenced. In order to get assistance, there are different strategies to take curing the arrears. There are pros and cons to each option, and some may be more feasible than others depending on your personal situation.
Workout agreement: Your landlord may be agreeable to granting you more time to deal with your personal crisis if you can commit to a plan on paper to stabilise your situation and get caught up on your rent. Perhaps your landlord will let you temporarily skip a payment for one month. A more likely scenario is that they may be willing to accept a portion of your arrears in addition to your regular rent payment, thereby spreading out the repayment over 2-6 months.
Following through on a workout agreement with the property owner lets them see that you are serious about following through on your financial responsibilities. Landlords typically work with responsible tenants far more often than they give in to requests by “deadbeat” tenants (loud, dirty, always late on rent, etc.).
Loan for rent payments: One of the biggest trends occurring in the UK right now is the use of loans to cover rent or even mortgage payments. It is a valid option, but only when the need is temporary. What many consumers are realising is that they can preserve their credit rating and avoid late fees by borrowing a couple thousand pounds to pay their rent and other household expenses.
The funds can also cover electricity, water, council tax and car payments while they are restoring their income or dealing with other financial emergencies. As your financial situation stabilises, then you may repay the amount borrowed over many months and avoid eviction and other unpleasant events. So borrowing money is always an option for avoiding homelessness, but be sure to use a low cost source of funds such as a credit union or council backed scheme. Find more information on how loans help pay rent to stop an eviction from private or government housing.
Rental assistance grant: If you are already receiving a public benefit, then you may be eligible for additional assistance through the government. To start, contact your city council to see if you qualify for financial aid or a scheme. This is a normal prerequisite even if you approach non governmental charities. Also look to see what local organisations can help you out with a grant or other solution that can help you avoid an eviction and further financial troubles. If you cannot find a programme to help, just ask us and we will track it down for you.
Third party mediation: It may sound weird at first, but many eviction prevention organisations can actually intervene on your behalf to negotiate a favourable outcome. Even if the landlord wants you out, sometimes they can negotiate a change in the move out date, or to a financial package or other consideration to resolve the situation favourably for both parties. The best case scenario is that they can actually mediate a solution that may involve a workout arrangement to avoid the eviction.
There are also lawyers that can often provide vulnerable households with free mediation services. Several charity organisations, such as Law Centres Network, have case workers and solicitors on staff that will work with tenants on finding a solution to their housing crisis. While the legal aid provided can cover a number of civil matters, a focus of many of these groups tends to be on eviction prevention. Find more information on free legal advice.
Your Landlord’s Perspective
It is common to look at the situation from your perspective, since you are the one who may be displaced or even homeless. First though, always be sure to consider your landlord’s needs.
When you are out of work or otherwise unable to pay your rent, your landlord may only offer limited flexibility to help you out. Many do their best to work with the tenant to find some type of solution. It is not that they are without compassion. The property owner has to pay a mortgage and other costs on the home too whether you pay your rent on-time or not. Many landlords risk losing their property to foreclosure if they begin falling behind on mortgage payments, so they have to hold the tenants responsible for paying the rent regardless of how deep their cash reserves are.
So when trying to work out an arrangement with your landlord, consider those needs as well. By acknowledging them, they may actually open up and consider alternative arrangements that can provide flexibility on dealing with the arrears.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are prepared for either staying or moving. Your choice will depend on you gathering the necessary financial resources (including grants or loans) and then following through on your plan.