Dealing with rent arrears
It is important to act quickly if you have rent arrears, to prevent your arrears getting bigger and to avoid your landlord trying to evict you. This page tells you what to do.
Talk to your landlord
If you have rent arrears, don't ignore them! If you are behind with your rent, your landlord will have grounds to start legal proceedings for eviction. Contact your landlord to discuss how you will clear your arrears. Landlords are much more likely to be sympathetic if they know that you are trying to resolve the matter.
Getting help to pay your rent
If you have a low income or you are already receiving welfare benefits, you may be entitled to help to pay your rent from universal credit.
If you are already claiming universal credit or housing benefit, but it does not cover all of the rent, you may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment to help with the difference, or even to help towards paying off the arrears.
Check if you're entitled to benefits
You’ll need information on your household’s:
income and savings
outgoings, such as rent
existing benefits and pensions
council tax bill
Get help managing your money
COVID-19 Self Isolation Support Grant
You may qualify for a £500 single payment if you're losing income because you have to self isolate and you cannot work from home.
You need to apply for this grant through your local council. Check if you're eligible and find out how to apply for a Self Isolation Support Grant on mygov.scot
Work out your finances
The National Debtline has a budgeting tool you can use to record your incoming and outgoing finances and work out a budget. A specialist adviser can also help you look at your budget. Once you know what you spend each week, you might be able to find ways to reduce your expenditure. This might be possible by:
spending less on non-essential items
reducing payments to other debts such as credit cards or hire purchase goods
switching to a cheaper provider of electricity, gas or telephone
switching to a cheaper provider of car or contents insurance
taking in a lodger (provided your landlord gives their permission).
How to work out your budget
National Debtline Scotland has an easy to use online Budgeting Tool which you can use to work out your monthly budget.
It can be useful to have all the details of what money you have coming into your home along with details to hand of your rent, bills and any other expenses when you use this tool.
The tool allows you to save a copy and/or print out the information for later use.
Make an affordable arrangement
Once you have worked out your finances, talk to your landlord and see if you can arrange to pay back your arrears over a period of time. Don't promise to pay back more than you can afford - you're better off arranging to pay back your arrears in small instalments over a long period of time, than promising to pay them back in a few large instalments that you then can't meet.
It's very important that you stick to any repayment agreement you work out with your landlord. Try to get any agreement in writing.
Get help to negotiate with your landlord
If you don't want to talk to your landlord yourself, or you are having difficulty agreeing on an affordable repayment arrangement, you may wish to consider mediation to settle disputes with your landlord. SafeDeposits Scotland has a free impartial resolution service which may be able to help you communicate with your landlord, for example on resolving rent arrears.
You also have the option of speaking to an adviser at Shelter Scotland, Citizens Advice or other advice agency to ask how they can help you. An adviser may be able to talk to your landlord on your behalf.
Tenant hardship grant and loan funds
The Scottish Government has introduced two funds to help tenants with rent arrears. These are to support tenants whose income went down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two funds are:
a tenant hardship grant - this does not need to be repaid
a tenant hardship loan - this is paid back over 5 years. It is interest free. Repayments start 6 months after the loan is paid
Both funds are for people who rent from:
a private landlord or letting agent
a housing association
You can find out information on our page Tenant hardship grant and loan funds.
Last updated: 27 May 2021