More tenants fall behind with rent
Filed under: Debt
Its research indicates that more than 100,000 tenants in England and Wales owed at least two months' rent between the end of March and the start of July - a 24% increase on the same period in 2011.
Why are more tenants falling behind with their rent?
Rents have risen over the last year or so. Coupled with job losses and stagnating wages, this has pushed many tenants' finances to breaking point.
Research from homelessness charity Shelter shows that average private rents are now unaffordable for working families in more than half of England, with many paying up to 50% of their income each month.
And the bad news is that the situation is expected to get even worse for those already struggling.
Paul Jardine at Templeton LPA, part of the LSL group, said: "With the instability in the labour market and wider economy, and public sector cuts still to come, the number of tenants in multiple months of arrears is likely to continue to expand."
What are the dangers for tenants who do this?
If you fall behind on your rent, the main danger you face is being evicted from your home - and winding up on the streets.
The number of court orders issued to evict tenants increased by 6% between the last three months of 2011 and the first three months of this year.
Even if you manage to avoid eviction (see our tips on this below), missing rent payments will also make it harder to find accommodation in the future.
There is evidence that more and more private landlords are prepared to be flexible about rents to secure tenants with sounder finances, so a poor rent payment record is likely to leave you struggling to find a property.
What can tenants do if they are unable to pay their rent?
Rent payments should be the first thing you pay when you receive your salary each month.
A Consumer Credit Couselling Service (CCCS) spokesperson said: "Even if you have other debts, it is vital to prioritise rent payments as these are the ones that could lead to you losing the roof over your head if you miss them."
If your finances are slipping out of control, however, approaching a free debt advice service such as Citizens Advice or the CCCS is a good first step.
If you are on a low income, or having more wide-ranging financial problems, it is also worth checking if you qualify for any relevant benefits - such as housing benefit, council tax benefit or tax credits.
You don't have to be out of work to claim them, and you may even qualify for more than one.
For people whose financial problems have already led to them missing a rent payment, on the other hand, the most important thing is to contact the landlord or lettings agent concerned to try to find a solution as soon as possible.