If you have problems paying your rent, it’s important to tell whoever you rent from. They may be willing to let you gradually pay back what you owe.

Everyone who rents has rights and responsibilities. If you are renting privately, you have rights including to:

  • live in a safe property and be undisturbed
  • have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends if you meet any agreed terms
  • challenge excessively high charges (in England and Wales)
  • know who your landlord is
  • be protected from unfair eviction
  • have a written agreement if your tenancy is for more than three years.

You also have a responsibility to: 

  • take care of the property
  • pay your rent
  • pay any other agreed charges
  • not sub-let unless your landlord allows it.

If you rent from your local authority, the law may give you more protection than people who rent privately, depending on your situation.

You may be entitled to benefits to help you pay rent, such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Keeping up with your rent

You may be renting from:

  • a private landlord
  • your council in England, Scotland or Wales, or the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland
  • an organisation that rents to people with a low income or who have certain needs (a housing association).

If you think you might miss a rent payment or have missed one already, it’s important to speak to whoever you rent from as soon as possible. They may be willing to make an arrangement with you where you gradually pay off what you owe.

Make sure this arrangement is affordable, so you can continue with it. Explain your situation to your landlord if you can. This is likely to delay or prevent them trying to remove you from the property (evict you). It’s often in their own interests to keep you renting. Finding someone new could take time and be expensive for them.

Make sure you agree with your landlord about how much you owe. You can ask your landlord for a statement of your rent. Their statement and your records should show the same thing.

If you are eligible for any benefits that could help cover your rent costs, such as Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, you should apply as soon as possible. Benefits can only be backdated to cover up to one month before you applied.

Your rights while renting

The information below is about renting from a private landlord. If you rent from your council (in England, Scotland or Wales), the Housing Executive (in Northern Ireland), or a housing association, the law may give you more protection than people who rent privately. To find out more, visit:

Private renting

Most people who rent privately sign an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST) with their landlord. This is a contract that gives you and your landlord certain rights. If you rent a room in a house and the landlord also lives there, you are their lodger. This means you will have a lodger or ‘licence’ agreement with different rights and responsibilities.

Everyone who rents a property has certain rights, even if they do not have a tenancy agreement. These rights can be different across the UK.

Your rights with AST renting

When renting with an AST, you have the following rights:

  • To live in a property that is safe and in a good condition.
  • To have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends, as long as you meet the terms agreed when you paid the deposit.
  • To have your deposit put in a government-backed protection scheme. This should be done by your landlord.
  • To challenge excessively high charges. This applies in England and Wales. People in Scotland don’t usually have this right. People in Northern Ireland don’t have it.
  • To know who your landlord is.
  • To live in the property without being disturbed.
  • To see an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property.
  • To be protected from unfair eviction. This is called illegal eviction and harassment in Scotland.
  • To be protected from unfair rent. This does not apply in Northern Ireland.
  • In England and Wales, to have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years.
  • In Scotland, to get a tenant information pack if you are renting under an assured or short-assured tenancy. The landlord should provide this. The pack is supported by the Renting Scotland website that offers practical help on private renting for tenants and landlords. 
  • In Northern Ireland, there is no right to have a written agreement but you must receive a tenancy statement. For more information, visit

Your responsibilities while renting

There are also things that you must do while renting from a private landlord. These include the following:

  • Taking good care of the property.
  • Paying the rent you have agreed to with the landlord.
  • Paying other charges as agreed with the landlord. This may include council tax (rates in Northern Ireland), or gas and electricity bills.
  • Only subletting a property if the tenancy agreement or landlord allows it. Subletting is when you lease all or part of a property you are renting to someone else.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities while renting from a private landlord, visit:

Talk to your landlord if you are struggling with your rent. Check whether you are entitled to benefits that could help you pay your rent or other expenses. There’s more information about benefits that may help with housing costs.

Back to Housing costs


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