How to ask for a rent reduction

If you cannot afford your rent, your landlord might agree to a reduction. Speak to them as soon as possible to explain your circumstances.

Before you ask for a reduction

Check your entitlement to benefits

Use a benefits calculator to make sure you are claiming any benefits you’re entitled to.

If you get Universal Credit or Housing Benefit but it does not cover your full rent, apply for Discretionary Housing Payment through your council.

Work out how much you can afford

You can use a budgeting tool to understand your incomings and outgoings, and come up with a realistic amount that you’ll be able to afford.

What to say to your landlord

Tell them:

  • why you’re struggling with rent payments (for example, if you’ve lost your job)

  • what you’re doing about it (for example, looking for work or applying for benefits)

  • how long you expect the situation to last

  • your payment proposal

Your landlord is more likely to agree to a reduction if your situation is temporary. Tell them about any steps you’re taking to increase your income or reduce your other living costs.

Use our template letter to help know what to say.

If your landlord agrees to the reduction

To avoid misunderstandings, get any agreements in writing, including:

  • how much rent you should pay

  • how long the agreement lasts

  • whether the money needs to be paid back later

Stay in contact with your landlord. If they agreed to a temporary reduction, you'll need to start paying the full rent or negotiate again after the agreed time.

If your landlord does not agree to the reduction

Keep paying as much of your rent as you can. This means you'll have less debt to deal with later, and it might make it harder for your landlord to evict you.

Reduce your other bills

If you’re struggling with high energy costs, speak to your utility providers. They may have grants or other ways to reduce your bills. Contact Home Energy Scotland for free advice.

You could be entitled to a council tax reduction if you're on a low income. Ask your local council if you're eligible.

Get money advice

A money and debt adviser can help you find ways to increase your income, reduce your costs, manage your budget and deal with debts.

You can get free advice by phone, in person, or online:

Look at your housing options

You may have to look for more affordable housing.

Ask the council for a housing options interview. They have a duty to help if you're at risk of being evicted.

If your home is unaffordable, you may get more points on social housing waiting lists. This can help you get a home quicker. When applying to the council or housing association, explain that you cannot afford your current rent.

If you’re worried about eviction because of rent arrears

Your landlord cannot just throw you out. They have to follow the correct eviction procedure and a tribunal can decide whether it’s reasonable to evict you or not.

If you’ve been sent an eviction notice, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser for help.

Last updated: 4 October 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England