Struggling to pay the rent in your social housing

If you rent from the council or a housing association you can get help if you’re having problems affording your rent.

If you’ve missed a rent payment you’ll be in 'arrears'. This means you owe rent to your council or housing association landlord. It's important to act quickly because you could be evicted if you get behind with your 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 If you make a homeless application you could be found to be ‘intentionally homeless’, resulting in support being withdrawn.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.

If you can’t make your next rent payment

If you can’t afford your next rent payment you should talk to your landlord and let them know as soon as possible.

Your landlord is the local council or housing association you pay rent to.

It’s best to call up and speak to them. Explain why you’re finding it hard to pay your rent.

After you’ve spoken to your landlord you should check what help you could get paying your rent.

Check you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to:

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.

Ask for a discretionary housing payment

If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all your rent, you might be able to get discretionary housing payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent - you don’t need to pay it back. 

You need to be getting Housing Benefit or the housing costs part of Universal Credit to get a DHP. You can ask Cornwall Council for a form their contact number is 0300 1234 121 or a link to complete the form is:

Keep a copy of the DHP claim form for your records.

Speak to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help filling in a DHP claim form.

Move to a smaller home

You might not get enough benefits to pay your rent if your home is too big for you. This is because your Housing Benefit or the housing part of Universal Credit is being reduced due to the bedroom tax.

If you can’t afford to make up the difference you might be able to move to a home with fewer bedrooms.

You can do this by registering on ‘Homeswapper’ or registering on Cornwall Homechoice page and active bidding on smaller accommodation once you are registered. 

Check if you could get a lodger

A lodger is someone who pays you rent to live in a spare room in your home. You can also ask them to help out with bills.

Getting a lodger could affect your benefits - it’s important to check if you’ll be better-off or not. Depending on your tenancy type you might need to have permission from your landlord.

Read more about getting a lodger and how to check if it would make you better-off.

Support from your landlord’s welfare advisors

Most Social Housing Providers have an in-house support officer to help you if you are struggling to pay your rent.

They can help you with things such as downsizing, claiming benefits, appealing benefit entitlement, consolidating your debts, signposting you to agencies to increase your working hours and other support to help you sustain your tenancy.

If you live in a Cornwall Housing Property please contact 0300 1234 161, say what area you live in and ask to speak to an Inclusion Advisor in the Rents Team.