This is akt’s quick guide to getting financial benefits. If you’re unemployed or experiencing financial hardship, you may qualify for universal credit.
We’ve put together some information and advice on steps you can take if you are struggling to pay rent or if you are in rent arrears, and organisations you can contact for support.
The most important thing to do if you are in any kind of debt is to reach out for support – the sooner you do this the sooner you can get help to manage the situation – you are not alone.
guidance for anyone worried about paying rent:
try contacting your landlord to see if they can adjust your rent payments.
If you are struggling to pay your rent, the first thing you should do is contact your landlord or housing association. They may agree to a late rent payment or a rent reduction for a temporary period.
For more information on contacting your landlord and budgeting see The Money Helper’s guide.
find out whether you’re eligible for benefits
The UK government’s guide on housing costs and Universal Credit explains what benefits you might be entitled to and how to claim them.
If your income has changed, you may be able to claim additional benefits to help pay your rent. The housing element of Universal Credit can be claimed if you receive Universal Credit.
The housing element of Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit, however there are some limited circumstances in which you can claim Housing Benefit listed here, for example, if you are homeless and have been placed in temporary or supported accommodation.
The amount that you will receive from Universal Credit or Housing Benefit for housing costs is based on the Local Housing Allowance in your area. You can use this calculator to determine how much you are entitled to:
If you are struggling to meet rent payments or have difficulty budgeting, you may be able to set up direct rent payments meaning your universal credit housing element could be paid directly to your landlord. To request for your rent to be paid directly to your landlord contact the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644 or speak with your work coach.
If your Housing Benefit or housing element of Universal Credit does not cover all of you housing costs, or you are subject to a benefit cap, you may be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Shelter’s guide on DHP explains who may be eligible and how to apply.
If you are a student, you normally will not be entitled to benefits to support with your housing costs except in limited circumstances for example, if you are studying part-time; if children live with you and if you get certain disability benefits.
If you are estranged from your family or your parents/family are refusing to support you financially, then we would encourage you to contact the student support or student finance service at your college or university. They may be able to provide financial support in the form of hardship payments and may be able to help you apply for grants.
If you are estranged from your parents, then you may be able to apply to student finance as an independent student meaning that you could be awarded the full financial support award without your parent’s income being assessed.
If you are a statutory care leaver, care experienced (Scotland), or estranged from your family then you may be able to apply for the Unite scholarship which covers accommodation and bills for up to 3 years of study. To find out more about whether you are eligible and how to apply visit Unite scholarship’s website.
are you in rent arrears?
Rent arrears is the term landlords might use if you haven’t paid your rent and you’re now in debt to your landlord. If you have missed a payment on your rent and have fallen into rent arrears these resources will help you navigate the next steps.
eviction for rent arrears
If you are a private renter, then you are likely to have a shorthold tenancy – the type of tenancy you have should be stated in your tenancy agreement. Your landlord can give you a section 21 notice or a section 8 notice to evict you.
If you are issued with a section 21 notice, then your landlord does not need to provide a reason for eviction and therefore does not need to prove you owe rent. If your landlord issues you with a section 8 notice, then they need to give you a reason for the eviction. If the reason given is rent arrears and you owe less than two months’ rent, the court may be able to stop or postpone the eviction to give you time to pay off the arrears.
If you are a housing association tenant, then your housing association can apply to the court to evict you if you owe more than 8 weeks or two months’ rent.
You may be able to qualify for the Breathing Space Scheme if you have fallen behind on rent, which could give you up to 60 days’ respite from eviction whilst you deal with your debt.
Information and advice on the Breathing Space Scheme can be given through:
Before applying to the courts, your housing association must have tried to talk to you about the arrears as early as possible; have given you information about the arrears; offered help to make a housing benefit claim and agreed to delay taking you to court if you make a reasonable offer to pay off your rent arrears.