Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

​Household rent

Rent arrears are very important because you could lose your home if you do not pay them off.

Your right to stay in your home depends on the type of tenancy you have. Each type gives different rights. So it’s important for you to find out what type of tenancy you have. If you are not sure, contact Shelter or your local citizens advice bureau.

Your situation could be made more complicated if you use your premises for both business and household use. In this case, you may only have a business lease covering the whole of the property, which means you might not have the same rights as a domestic (household) tenant.

Business rent

This information does not apply to eviction in England due to immigration status. Contact us for advice. 

You cannot be evicted from your home without a court order. Even if you are taken to court, this does not always mean you will automatically lose your home. Keep paying your rent and make an offer to pay off the arrears. Even if the court decides you cannot afford to stay there, you will not be evicted from your home on the day of the hearing. There are special rules for some types of tenancy.

Before a social landlord (such as a local council or a housing association) can take court action to evict you from your home, they should follow the pre-action protocol for possession by social landlords. Courts should take the protocol into account before deciding what order to make.

Dealing with rent arrears

It is never too early, or too late, to come to an arrangement to repay your arrears. You may not be behind with your payments yet or your landlord may have already started court action. Whatever the situation, don’t delay. Contact your landlord as soon as possible by writing to them, phoning them or making an appointment to see them.

Make sure your rent arrears have been worked out properly. Get a breakdown of your rent account from your landlord. Check that all the payments you have made have been added to your account. Ask for regular statements. Keep your receipts. Check you are getting any Housing Benefit or Universal Credit that you are able to claim.

If you have made an offer to pay the arrears, start paying this as soon as possible, even if your landlord has not accepted the offer. You also need to pay your normal rent. If you haven’t paid for a while, pay as much as you can.

Have you been treated fairly?

If you think you have been treated unfairly, complain to your landlord. If you are still not happy, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service (if you are a housing-association tenant) or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (if you are a council tenant). If you have a private landlord, contact us for advice.

Household rent arrears

For more information about how to deal with rent arrears, see our detailed Household rent arrears fact sheet.

This fact sheet covers the following areas.

  • What type of tenancy do I have?
  • Housing Benefit.
  • What if my landlord increases my rent?
  • How can I pay off my rent arrears?
  • My landlord is refusing to agree to my offer.
  • What if my landlord takes court action?
  • Eviction - what can I do?