Struggling to pay the private rent

If you’ve missed a rent payment you’ll be in 'arrears' - this means you owe rent to your landlord. It's important to act quickly because you could be evicted if you get behind with your rent.

One of the main reasons for facing homelessness is non-payment of rent.

What are the consequences of not paying my rent?

If you do not pay your rent this can lead to you being evicted by the bailiff.  If you do not have anywhere lined up to move too this could lead to you rough sleeping.  It can also prevent you later on from securing a tenancy.  If you make a homeless application you could be found to be ‘intentionally homeless’, resulting in support being withdrawn. 

It is therefore vital you seek advice on maintaining your payments. It is never too late to request help, however, the earlier you seek help the more chance you will have of sustaining your tenancy. 

Debt Advice

It is important to know which debts are ‘priority debts’ and which debts are ‘non-priority’ debts.

Rent arrears and council tax arrears are both priority debts because something bad can happen to you if you don’t pay them (rent arrears- become homeless), (council tax arrears- go to prison). Priority debts should be paid before paying non-priority debts.

See Cornwall Housing debt advice page.

Maximising your income

Increasing income from employment

If you are looking to increase your working hours or seeking a better paid job then there are Agencies that can support you to do this such as:

Pentreath: If you are struggling to find your way into work or back to work due to mental health issues then Pentreath can help. 

Positive People: For help back into work and training.

Shop windows: Many shops, restaurants and takeaways still advertise for employees via shop window adverts

Employment agencies: There are a wide range of employment agencies offering links to work in Cornwall. It is useful to register your CV with as many of them as possible and sign up for email alerts:

Maximising your benefits

Use benefits calculators to find out what benefits you could get. You’ll need to know your income and the income of anyone who lives with you.

If you’re still not sure what you could get click on this link to find your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau and they’ll do a full benefits check to find out what you’re entitled to.

Exemptions from the shared accommodation rate

Single people under the age of 35 are only entitled to a lesser amount towards help with their rent from the Government.  However, there are exemptions to this as follows.  If you fall into one of these exemptions, you will be entitled to the one-bedroom rate.

Personal independence payments

Do you have high support needs due to a physical or mental disability?

If you answered yes; then you may have entitlement to personal independence or attendance allowance.

More information if you are working age or if pension age.

Rent is too high

A discretionary housing payment (DHP) may be made if you cannot afford to pay your rent. The Council will look at your personal circumstances when they decide if an award can be made.

The most that they can pay is the difference between the housing benefit you receive and your eligible rent.  You must already be receiving housing costs before they can consider a discretionary housing payment.  In some cases they can consider paying rent arrears as long as the tenancy is deemed to be affordable in the future.

If your rent is too high it will not be sustainable in the long term.  If you receive an award of DHP, this is only paid on a temporary basis.  You will therefore need to be searching for more affordable accommodation.

A DHP is more likely to be awarded if you are working towards; maximising your income/reducing your debts/searching for more affordable accommodation.

Click on the below link to submit an application form for a DHP

Or call the DHP team on 0300 1234 121

Finding cheaper accommodation

Information page on finding PRS

Please also refer to the Members of the public | NHAS fact sheet and click on the section ‘Rents, Benefit and Money’ as this has a lot of further useful advice