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Debt advice

Rent arrears occur when you don't pay some or all of the rent you owe your landlord. This can happen when you get into financial difficulty due to a cut in working hours or job loss, a delay or problem with your Housing Benefit claim, or a relationship breakdown.

The higher your arrears get, the more likely your landlord will consider taking action to evict you from the property. A landlord takes action to protect the investment they have made; they will consider your arrears as a threat to their financial position and as a breach of tenancy. Although a lot of landlords will try and be as helpful and sympathetic as possible, you should consider your rent as a priority payment because of the risk of action from your landlord.

It is important to address the problem as soon as possible by seeking advice on your options. Most of the time it is possible to sort out the problem and pay off any existing arrears, but you must act quickly. The longer your financial problems continue, the more the rent arrears will build up, making them harder to pay off.

Housing Benefit problems can be a cause of rent arrears. This usually occurs when your claim has been suspended due to a change of circumstances or a pause in another related benefit. This is why you must keep the Housing Benefit department up to date with all changes in your circumstances, and involved in the claim until the changes have been resolved. Don't wait until a problem gets worse - respond to letters you receive from Housing Benefit or letters about a change in your income-based benefits which may have an effect on your Housing Benefit entitlement.

If you claim Housing Benefit or council tax benefit and your circumstances have changed, making you worse off, you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is either a one-off payment or a number of payments, which you would receive as well as your Housing Benefit. This is discretionary, not an entitlement, and does not pay rent arrears. Its purpose is to provide short-term help to households who have experienced an income shock and are in housing need. We can help you apply or you can apply to Housing Benefit direct.

Help for Gateshead Council tenants

Visit Shelter for more advice on dealing with rent arrears.

Contact us

Debt Advice Team
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 5484
0191 433 2607

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