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Are you worried about meeting your housing costs?

If you're worried about being able to pay your rent or mortgage because of your financial situation, the Welfare Support Service can offer you advice and support.

Paying rent


Threat of eviction from rental property

If you are renting and have been issued with a Section 21 (eviction notice), you should seek advice from your local authority. 

Most local authorities will ask that a tenant/ occupier stay in the property until bailiffs physically evict them, as at this point the you will become statutorily homeless and have a right to be given temporary accommodation by your local authority.  If a tenant leaves before this time, they may be classed as ‘voluntarily homeless’ and not be entitled to support from their local authority.

If you have a court date for eviction/ repossession proceedings, you may be able to get representation and/ or advice from a number of agencies such as:

  • Local Law Centres: Local law centres provide legal representation to those who cannot afford a lawyer. You can search for one at lawcentres.org.uk
  • Shelter: This charity provides in depth advice on most housing and homelessness issues and often have representatives available at courts. Visit shelter.org.uk for more information and contact details for their expert telephone advice helplines and advice centres.

Support to help you pay rent

Tenants may be able to get help with their rent through Universal Credit. This is normally paid to the claimant not to a landlord.

You can check if you're likely to be eligible for Universal Credit using a benefits calculator. For more information on Universal Credit and rent, including the effect of the benefit cap, see gov.uk/universal-credit and to apply online please visit gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.

Universal Credit has replaced housing benefit and there are now only limited circumstances under which you can make a new claim for housing benefit. To check if you meet the criteria to make a new claim for housing benefit go to gov.uk/housing-benefit. Otherwise, any help for rent would come from the Universal Credit system.

You may also be able to get help with your council tax payments. You would need to apply directly to your local authority for this help. To find your local authority, use the search tool available on the Gov.uk website here.

If you are renting from a private landlord, you will be subject to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, which is the maximum rental a local authority will pay for a household of your size.  Any shortfall would need to be made up yourself. You can find out your LHA rate on the Gov.uk website here

It is worth noting that single people under 35 who don't have dependent children would only be eligible to receive the ‘shared accommodation rate’, which is based on the LHA rate for a room in shared accommodation. This may be significantly lower that your actual rent if you are under 35 and renting a whole property.

If you are renting from a social landlord (e.g. your landlord is a local authority or a housing association), the amount of help you can receive with your rent will be reduced if you are deemed to have more bedrooms than the rules allow. This is known as the under-occupation charge or ‘bedroom tax’. The bedroom tax does not apply once you reach state pension age.

If making up a LHA shortfall or the bedroom tax is preventing you from paying your rent, you may be able to ask your Local Authority to provide you with a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

What is a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)?

If you rent your home and get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, but still can't afford your housing costs, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

What you can claim for varies depending on which UK country you live in, but examples may include:

  • to cover rent shortfalls, rent deposits, rent advances, or removal costs
  • if you’ve been affected by benefit caps, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, or removal of the spare room subsidy
  • to help with rent arrears to prevent you becoming homeless

DHP is paid at the discretion of your local council / local authority (or Housing Executive in Northern Ireland) who will decide whether to give you a DHP, how much you will be paid, and for how long.

Paying a mortgage


What to do if you are struggling to make mortgage payments

It is worth contacting your mortgage lender as soon as possible to advise them of a change in circumstance and to negotiate a new way of meeting your payments.  If approached before arrears are incurred, lenders are often able to be flexible and may agree to a repayment holiday, a period of nil payment, switching to interest only or to add any arrears on to the total outstanding on your mortgage.

If you are facing repossession by your lender, you should seek specialist advice as soon as possible on your rights and responsibilities.  Your lender should only pursue repossession as a last resort, and must consider all reasonable options that you propose to pay off your arrears.  

You may be able to get free and confidential advice from Civil Legal Advice, dependent on your income. More information is available on the government's website: www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice

Shelter.org.uk can also provide specialist advice on next steps and you may find their information on repossession helpful.

Support to make mortgage payments

There is relatively limited support for homeowners who are having difficulty meeting their mortgage payment. It is worth checking whether you have mortgage protection insurance which will cover your mortgage payments for a period if your income drops. 

Some critical illness policies may help cover your mortgage payments if you become ill and your income drops.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) 

If you are entitled to an income-based benefit -such as Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Pensions Credit- you may be eligible for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

This is a payment administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assist those on low incomes with the interest portion of their mortgage. However, SMI only becomes payable 39 weeks after you become eligible for an income-based benefit. More information is available on the government's website here: gov.uk/support-for-mortgage-interest

SMI is paid as a loan, which must be repaid when you die or sell your home.

 

The RCN Welfare Service

The Welfare Service cannot offer you housing, but may be able to advise you when you are facing difficult housing decisions. For example, we can offer advice on negotiating with your landlord if you're in arrears because of a change in circumstance.

The RCN Welfare Service can:

  • offer advice on negotiating with your landlord if you're in arrears because of a change in circumstance
  • advise and assist you if your landlord is seeking possession
  • advise you of your options in relation to your housing situation

See booking an appointment with the RCN Welfare Service for more details.