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Priority debts - rent arrears

The most urgent debts to deal with are your rent arrears. You should work out an offer of how much you can afford to repay each week. Use the Personal budget and repayments calculator to do this. If the amount left over after all your costs are taken into account is very small (or if you have no money left over at all), look at these two sections first:

Once you've worked out how much you can afford, you should contact your landlord to explain your situation and make an offer of repayment.

Making an offer of repayment
First make an informal contact by telephone. They may ask you to go and see them for a meeting to discuss the situation, or to write to them explaining your situation.

If you go and see them take a copy of your personal budget and the letter with your offer of repayment. Otherwise, send them the letter and a copy of your budget by post.

If you get Housing Benefit, offer to have it paid direct to your landlord. This might make them more willing to agree to your offer.

Start paying the amount you are offering immediately to the landlord or agent.

You can use the Creditor letters activity to help you write your offer of repayment letter. Here's a sample letter to help you:


Anytown Lettings Agency
67 Broad Street
J. Markovitz and R. Balan
Flat 12, Royle Court
Park Drive
AN12 0AA

22 April 2003

Dear Sir/Madam

Rent Account Ref. No. 0123456789

Since making our last rent payment, our circumstances have changed and as a result we have been unable to pay the last three rent bills. As a result our account is 616.00 overdue.

This has happened because Mr Balan has recently been made redundant and is now in receipt of Job Seeker's Allowance, reducing our monthly income.

We enclose a Personal Budget sheet which shows our total income from all sources, and our total outgoings. As you can see we have only 18.60 a week (80.60 per month) left for our creditors.

The offers we have made to our creditors have been worked out on a pro-rata basis, and we have written to all our creditors asking them to accept reduced payments.

In view of our circumstances, please would you agree an offer of 65.00 per month to repay these arrears? If interest or other charges are being added to the account we would be grateful if you would freeze these so that all payments made will reduce what we owe you.

Should our circumstances improve we will contact you again.

We would be grateful if you would send a standing order form to make it easier to pay you.

Thank you for your assistance. We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,


Julie Markovitz and Rajesh Balan


Now you should know how much you'll be paying a week to pay off your arrears. You can go back to your personal budget to put in the revised payments.

What if your landlord refuses to accept your offer?
Just because your landlord refuses your offer of payment this does not mean you will automatically lose your home. If your landlord refuses to accept your offer:
  • Start paying your rent immediately plus the amount you have offered off the arrears.
  • Contact your landlord. Use your Personal Budget to show that the amount you have offered is all you can afford.
  • Keep a record of all payments, and letters to and from your landlord.
  • Keep paying your rent and arrears payment. If your landlord still takes further action against you, contact an advice agency.
  • If your landlord threatens to use bailiffs against you to recover the rent arrears contact a local advice agency immediately.

You cannot be evicted without a court order. If your landlord threatens to throw you out without going to court or harasses you to make you leave, they may be acting illegally.

If this is happening to you, contact your local council. Ask for the person who deals with harassment of tenants.

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