Rent Arrears – Tips for Taking Control
In MABS, we receive a lot of great questions about money matters and tackling debt. Questions that we know many people want to ask but don’t know whom to ask or where to start.
More people than ever are renting in Ireland, and rents are at record highs. Keeping a roof over your head is one of the biggest priorities. However, with increasing rents, it can be difficult to keep on top of your rent, especially with rising household costs like electricity bills. If you can’t afford your rent or think you might fall behind, we’ve investigated what steps you can take to take control of your situation.
In this blog we’ll cover:
- How to work out a plan and talk to your landlord
- Solutions to help you pay your rent
- Ways to pay your rent
- Where to get free help and advice
Work out a plan and talk to your landlord
If you are struggling to pay your rent or have already missed a payment, you need to take action. There are two things you need to do:
- Work out a budget
- Talk to your landlord
By working out a budget, you will know how much you have and can afford to pay and potentially add on to your rent to clear arrears. If you’re not sure how or where to start with your budget, you can contact us here in MABS
Communication is key so speaking to your landlord as soon as you feel you might be in trouble can help your situation.
Work out a budget
To start, you can use our budget tool to work out how much money is coming in and going out. From there, you can look for ways to pay your rent by:
- Increasing your income
- Getting better value for your money
- Reducing your expenses
Try to keep paying your normal rent while you are working out how much you can pay off your rent arrears. This shows that you want to address the problem and deal with your arrears.
When you have a plan for how you will manage your money and know what you can offer towards your rent arrears, talk to your landlord. If you think this is likely to be an ongoing problem, or you have other debts, follow our 5 steps to tackling debt or see solutions to help you pay your rent.
Talk to your landlord
Talk to your landlord immediately. Talking to your landlord about late or reduced rent payments can be difficult, but they may agree to a repayment plan if you explain your situation. Read more about tips for contacting creditors.
When you talk to your landlord:
- Explain why you’re going to be late/short with the rent and ask for extra time
- Tell them how you’re going to address the problem and how you plan to catch up on (any) missed payments
- Do not make promises you can’t keep
Agree a repayment plan for arrears
If you agree on a repayment plan, you’ll probably need to commit to paying a regular amount each week or month on top of your usual rent payments. You should write it down and stick to the plan.
You may be struggling to meet the full payment if for example you have lost your job and are waiting for a social welfare payment to come through. Explain your situation and keep paying something to show you are trying your best to keep arrears down.
You can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp us on 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office to work together on a plan to deal with your rent problems or arrears.
What to do if you’re being threatened with eviction
You can’t be evicted straight away. If you’re unable to agree on a repayment plan with your landlord, they must:
- Give you a minimum of 14 days warning notice for failure to pay rent
- Give you a 28-day ‘Notice of Termination’ (eviction notice) if you can’t pay within the 14 days warning notice
Even if your landlord has sent you a Notice of Termination, it’s not too late to try to reach an agreement with them.
If you get any letters threatening eviction, try and act quickly.
Contact Threshold if you’re unsure that your landlord is acting legally and properly. They can also advise you on rent pressure zones.
Contact the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) if you need legal advice and cannot afford a solicitor.
See the Residential Tenancy Board website for information on:
- Rent reviews
- Rent arrears
- Having your home maintained during a tenancy
- Rent predictability measures (Government attempts to control rent increases)
Solutions to help you pay your rent
Not being able to keep up with your rent can be stressful, but there are options to help you stay in your home and avoid eviction.
I am renting from a private landlord
If you’re living in private rented accommodation, check if you’re entitled to the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP). Contact your local authority who will make a decision based on your needs. You can get more information on the HAP website.
Check if you are entitled to Rent Supplement. This is a short-term means-tested payment for certain people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources.
Check to see if you are eligible for other social welfare payments.
I am renting from a local authority or housing body
Check that you are being charged the correct rent. You can ask your local authority or housing body how their rent charges are calculated generally and how yours has been calculated. Your rent will be higher if grown-up children or a partner lives with you. Always be sure to inform your local authority if your circumstances change, for example, if your partner or non-dependent child moves out. This can lower the amount of rent and arrears you have to pay. You will need to provide proof of address to prove the person is no longer living with you.
Where to get free help and advice
If you’re already in arrears with your rent or are struggling with debts, talk to a money adviser as soon as possible. You can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.
Disclaimer: This blog does not represent legal advice and is intended for guidance only. If you are concerned about your current or future personal financial situation, then please contact an adviser from MABS. Advisers are available by phone, email, WhatsApp and in-person in locations nationwide.