NEARLY half a million Brits are behind on their rent and at risk of eviction – but here are four ways to get help.
Around 425,000 households owe money to their landlords, according to new research by Citizens Advice.
The new data, shared with the ITV News Tonight programme, also hows that more than 200,000 private renters have been served an eviction notice since June last year, or told to expect one in six months.
While one in six of the 6,000 people surveyed by the charity said they were worried about paying rent in the coming months as a cost of living crisis bites.
It comes as rent rates have soared under a cost of living crisis, with the average monthly bill soaring from £972 a year ago to £1,060 a month.
Recent research shows that the average amount that renters are in arrears by is £1,270 – and they’re falling behind on other housing costs too.
A Sun investigation found that families owed a whopping £87.2million worth of council tax over the 2020/21 financial year.
Here’s what you need to know about your eviction rights – and how to get help to keep a roof over your head.
What are your eviction rights?
Currently, landlords have to give you 14 days notice before serving you an eviction notice period.
Once you’ve been served this eviction notice, you have a two month period before court action can be started against you.
After this period is up, your landlord has four months to take you to court.
However, rule changes are coming into force over Section 21 “no fault evictions”.
This rule, which lets landlords kick out their tenants even if they’ve done nothing wrong – was been scrapped earlier this year in the Government’s white paper.
They might even be able to look into whether you can challenge the eviction notice if it was served illegally.
How to get help paying rent
If you think you are at risk of falling behind on paying your rent, the first thing to do is speak to your landlord.
You might be able to negotiate a more affordable rate while you get yourself back up and running.
You’re also more likely to get your landlord to agree a more affordable repayment plan for your arrears.
But there are ways of getting emergency cash to help pay for housing costs too – we explain the help you can apply for:
Cash from your council
To help hard-up families, the government announced £65million of extra funding for those in arrears last year.
You can apply to your local council for it – you can find who your local authority is by using the gov.uk’s website.
However, an investigation by UK Times found that millions of pounds of this extra funding is still yet to be awarded at a time when households need it most.
You could get up to £8,500 a year for free – that was the highest amount awarded to a single household, UK Times revealed.
Welfare Assistance scheme
Many local councils will dish out free cash, food vouchers, and help for bills to struggling families under the Welfare Assistance scheme.
Some local authorities may offer to put money towards paying your rent.
For example, East Riding of Yorkshire is handing out up to £1,000 in free cash for families to put towards this bill.
But a Sun investigation found that the help you can get under the scheme is a postcode lottery.
Some local councils don’t even have a scheme in place, leaving thousands of renters unable to access the help.
But for those with a scheme in place, a spike in grants happened over the Covid crisis, with councils handing out grants soaring by 210% in some places.
Household Support Fund
Another scheme you could tap into via your local council is the Household Support Fund.
It is a £500million government programme – and councils get a slice of the funding to dish out to hard-up families in their catchment area.
Some councils are offering free cash under the scheme – which you could use to put towards your housing costs.
For example, Shropshire Council is offering £115 in free cash, with Birmingham Council offering up to £200 to families.
But the deadline to apply is looming – councils have just a matter of weeks left to award the funding, which means you need to apply quickly.
Discretionary Housing Payment
If you’re on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your rent.
The cash can also be used to cover housing costs like putting down a deposit, and advances you’ll need for moving house.
Help will be given out on a case-by-case basis, which means you are not guaranteed a set amount.
But recent research showed some councils were offering up to £4,500 to families.
And in total, local authorities dished out a whopping £171million in Discretionary Housing Payments for the financial year ending March 2021 – up 30% the prior year at £132million.
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