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.

Missing a rent payment

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 particular needs (a housing association).

Whoever you rent from, if you think you might miss a rent payment or have missed one already, it’s important to speak with them as soon as possible.

They may be willing to make an arrangement where you gradually pay off what you owe. Make sure this arrangement is affordable, as you’ll be more likely to continue with it. You should at least explain your situation to your landlord. This is likely to delay or prevent them from trying to remove you from the property (evict you). It’s often in their interest to keep you renting, as finding someone new could be expensive and time-consuming for them.

You should make sure you agree with your landlord about how much you owe. You may be able to check how much you have paid using your rent book if you have one, or by checking your bank account. You can ask your landlord for a statement of your rent, then make sure everything has been added up correctly and that their statement matches your records.

Your rights and responsibilities 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, depending on your situation. To find out more, visit GOV.UK (if you live in England, Scotland or Wales) or Housing Advice NI (if you live in Northern Ireland).

Private renting

Most people who rent privately sign a tenancy agreement with their landlord when they start renting. This is a contract that gives both you and your landlord certain rights. There are different types of tenancy agreement. You should check which type of agreement you have, as it may affect your right to stay in your home.

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.

When renting, you have the following rights:

  • To live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair.
  • To have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends if you meet the agreed terms of the deposit. This applies in all UK countries. Your landlord should also place your deposit in a government backed protection scheme.
  • To challenge excessively high charges. This applies in England and Wales. People in Scotland don’t usually have this right, and people in Northern Ireland don’t have it.
  • To know who your landlord is.
  • To live in the property undisturbed.
  • To see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
  • To be protected from unfair eviction (illegal eviction and harassment in Scotland). And, except in Northern Ireland, to be protected from unfair rent.
  • To have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than three years in England and Wales. (Some tenancy agreements are only recorded orally.) In Scotland, anyone renting under an assured or short-assured tenancy is entitled to a tenant information pack from the Scottish Government, which should be provided by their landlord. This information pack is supported by a website of practical resources at Renting Scotland. In Northern Ireland, there is no right to have a written agreement.

You also have some responsibilities if you rent from a private landlord. These include:

  • taking good care of the property
  • paying the agreed rent
  • paying other charges as agreed with the landlord (this may include council tax or utility bills)
  • only sub-letting a property if the tenancy agreement or landlord allows it.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities while renting from a private landlord, visit GOV.UK (if you live in England, Scotland or Wales) or nidirect (if you live in Northern Ireland).

Next steps

Check whether you are entitled to benefits that could help you pay your rent or other expenses. If you are on a low income and struggling to pay rent, you may be eligible for Housing Benefit. In some areas, you may be able to claim a new benefit called Universal Credit, which can include support for housing costs. We have more information about Housing Benefit and other benefits that may help with housing costs.