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Managing rent arrears effectively


As the cost of living continues to increase, it is likely that some tenants may find it increasingly difficult to pay some or all of their rent. 

In these cases, where possible it is usually best for both parties to work together to try and find a solution that will allow the tenancy to continue. For the tenant it allows them to remain in their home without the threat of court action, and for the landlord it increases the chances that the arrears will be paid off eventually.

This guide is designed to help both landlords and tenants find a way to work through this, giving both peace of mind and the confidence to continue the tenancy into the future.

Starting the conversation

The most important thing to do is to get in touch with each other. For many tenants, this will be their first experience of not being able to pay essential bills and they may be apprehensive about contacting their landlord in the circumstances.

It is worse to ignore the situation and do nothing.

By starting a conversation with the landlord, the tenant can potentially relieve the stress of financial worries and access financial assistance from the landlord. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic the NRLA found that 90% of PRS landlords offered financial assistance in some way when asked by tenants affected by coronavirus.

The ability to help in this way will depend on the landlord’s own circumstances but, where the inability to pay is temporary, it will generally be better for the tenant and landlord to work together. This helps to avoid rent arrears spiralling and also means the landlord can avoid costs of reletting or evicting through the courts.

Tenants should contact their landlord via email or phone, clearly explaining their circumstances and asking what measures the landlord may be willing to provide in the circumstances to help alleviate the immediate debt problems.

Landlords can also proactively contact their tenants if they are concerned about the impact that the cost of living may be having on their finances. For most tenants, the impact on their finances will be temporary and they may be worried about talking to their landlord. By engaging compassionately with them, the landlord can not only help to reduce their money worries, but also ensure both parties are committed to working together to ensure any arrears are managed afterwards, allowing the tenancy to continue on long term.

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The remainder of this page is available to members of the NRLA and anyone who has registered for a guest account on the site. The page contains information on -

  • Keeping and sharing records

  • Arrears management

  • Supporting welfare applications

  • Managing arrears repayments

  • Breathing space

  • Mediation

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