If you rent from a private landlord you may be able to get financial support if you are struggling to pay your rent.
If your private landlord wants to increase your rent it is important to know the type of tenancy agreement you have. This is because there are different rules on how rent can be increased.
You may also need advice if you have fallen behind on rent payments (this is called being in ‘rent arrears’).
Help paying your rent
If you are already receiving the Universal Credit housing element/housing benefit
You may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) if you are still struggling to pay all of your rent.
Different tenancies have different rules on how rent can be increased. You can find information about different types of tenancy agreements if you are not sure which type you have.
With any tenancy it could be worth speaking to your landlord if they want to increase your rent, to see if they would be willing to negotiate.
If your tenancy is fixed term your landlord can only choose to increase the rent once the fixed term ends (the exceptions to this are if you agree to the increase or if there is a clause in your agreement saying that the rent will be increased before the fixed term ends).
If you are an assured or assured shorthold tenant your landlord will be charging you a ‘market rent’. This means that the amount of rent you are charged is based on the availability and cost of other similar accommodation in the area.
If you are an assured tenant, you have an increased chance of influencing when and by how much the rent is increased.
If your landlord wants to increase your rent and you are an assured shorthold tenant, this could be more difficult to challenge. This is because if you have an assured shorthold tenancy your landlord can evict you quite easily if you don’t agree to pay the rent.
If you think a proposed rent increase is unfair compared to the market rent, you may be able to appeal to a Rent Assessment Committee (through the Residential Property Tribunal).
Requesting increased Universal Credit or Housing Benefit payments
If you receive the housing costs element of Universal Credit (or Housing Benefit) you might be able to get extra money to deal with a future rent increase. You’ll need to report the change in circumstances before the rent increase starts.
If you fall behind with your rent payments this is called being in ‘rent arrears’.
Speak to your landlord
Speaking to your landlord as soon as possible and explaining your situation could help.
You can try asking if they will agree a repayment plan to pay off your rent arrears. This usually means paying back the money you owe but in smaller amounts (these smaller amounts are paid on top of your usual rent for an agreed period, until you have paid off your arrears).
Universal Credit deductions
If you receive Universal Credit your landlord could request that the arrears are paid back through deductions from your Universal Credit payments instead (only if you have rent arrears worth two months or more). The amount that can be deducted from the payments will depend on your circumstances.
It’s important not to ignore rent arrears, because if you don’t pay your rent your landlord can take court action to evict you.