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Keeping a roof over your head
Staying up-to-date with your most important payments is the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe. These are:
- Council tax
- Utilities – for example gas and electricity
If you do prioritise paying these, on time, you will always have a roof over your head, and you’ll be warm.
Even though credit card companies send the nastiest letters, they can’t take your home or your heating away, so don’t prioritise paying your credit card bills over paying your rent.
The most important thing to remember is that if you have trouble paying your rent, council tax or utilities, you must talk to your landlord, the Council or the utility company straight away, and they can help you set up a payment plan.
Don’t just ignore the problem – they will notice if you aren’t paying your bills!
If you are on a low income and need financial help to pay all or part of your rent, you may be able to get Housing Benefit.
Find out more, including who is eligible and how to claim, at www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/index.htm.
A word of warning…
If you have been evicted for rent arrears, you will be seen as ‘making yourself intentionally homeless’ by the council or borough, and they may not take responsibility for re-housing you. You should also note that this debt does not go away after an eviction, so it can have a lasting effect on your credit rating.
Download Moving on Up
Download Moving on Up – Eaves’ guide to living in your own home
Falling into debt
If you want advice about debt, or about falling behind on your payments, you can contact Eaves on 020 7840 7142 and ask to speak to someone, or call the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
You do not need to pay for debt advice, so be very wary of agencies advertising debt assistance on the internet.
Falling behind on your payments
It is important not to be frightened. You are not the first person this has happened to, and you won’t be the last. The really important thing is to fix the situation as soon as you can.
Contact your landlord as soon as possible and inform them that you are having difficulties paying your rent, even if you have already fallen behind. Landlords are generally not monsters and they have an interest in working with you to help you pay off your arrears – after all, this way they get their money, even if a little later than planned.
They can help by setting up realistic payment plans for you, so don’t be afraid to get in touch.
Many rent arrears are due to late Housing Benefit payments. Most landlords understand the system and accept this as a reason for late payment, but you do need to tell them that this is what’s happening. If you are responsible for part of the payment, make sure you pay your part on time.