Problems paying your rent

Content owner : Last updated : 05/03/11

Rent is a priority debt. Priority debts are those that can result in losing your home having your gas or electricity cut off or even going to prison. If you do not pay your rent or make arrangements to clear any arrears you could be evicted and lose your home.

If you are a Council tenant with rent arrears among other money worries and you want to speak to someone, contact one of our Debt Counsellors.

Even if you have received a Notice of Seeking Possession and are facing court action or even eviction it is never too late to ask for help and advice.

If you are struggling with your finances, see our debt advice page:

This gives step-by-step advice on how to identify your income, spending and debts and deal with priority and non-priority creditors. The leaflet also shows you example letters you should send to all those you owe money to.

Important points to remember

  • Do not ignore the problem: it won't go away. The longer you wait to deal with it or to take advice the worse the situation will be.
  • Do not borrow more to pay off your debts: In most cases this is very unwise as it digs a deeper hole and it could mean putting your house at risk. If you are considering, this talk to an independent adviser first.
  • If you have lost a job or are off sick: check whether you have insurance or that you are obtaining all the benefits you are entitled to. Talk to an adviser. Work out you own personal budget: make sure you show it or send it to your creditors when you tell them about your difficulties.
  • Get in touch with your creditors: explain your difficulties.
  • Contact everybody you owe money to: you must include every creditor or you will run into difficulties eventually.
  • Do not give up if at first you do not succeed: ask to speak to senior people if the first person is unhelpful.
  • Fill in reply forms to court papers and let the court have all the facts: this information will assist the court to resolve your dispute and decide what you can reasonably afford to pay.
  • Always attend court hearings: If you have a court hearing go along and take your budget sheet with you. Try to talk to an adviser.
  • Always keep copies of any letters or court forms you send or receive.

County Court and eviction

If you continue to not pay your rent, we will issue you with a legal notice called a Notice of Seeking Possession and will take county court action. You will receive a further letter notifying you of the date of the court hearing.

At the court hearing the court will consider your circumstances. It is important that you complete and return the defence form to the County Court and attend any hearings. The information will be used by the court to make a decision on your case.

The District Judge will make a decision after considering all the information presented to him. He can grant one of several court orders or adjourn the case to be heard at a later date. It would be advisable to seek the advice of the Rent Assist Team, to explain the Court procedures, or, if preferred, an independent advice agency such as CHAS (Catholic Housing Aid Society) or the Citizens Advice Bureau.


Avoid the threat of court action and eviction by seeking advice about any difficulty you are having in dealing with your debts.