ALMOST half a million Brits have fallen behind on their rent payments according to new research – but there are ways to get help paying your bill.
Over 430,000 households have racked up debts from not paying their rent over the Covid crisis, according to new figures from the National Residential Landlords Association.
The average amount that struggling households has also soared from £900 to £1,270 since May this year – an increase of 41%.
Nearly half (43%) of families behind on their rent are claiming Universal Credit.
Of these hard-up families, 59% said they were struggling to cover costs due to the cut to the £20 a week uplift back in October.
The government increased payments by £80 a month at the start of the Covid pandemic, but this was slashed on October 6.
Experts predicted the cut would put 100,000 at risk of homelessness because they wouldn't be able to afford putting a roof over their head due to the cut.
It came following the end to eviction protections put in place during the pandemic were in May, leaving cash-strapped families behind on rent more vulnerable to being kicked out of their home.
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National Residential Landlords Association chief executive Ben Beadle said the government should step in to avoid people losing their homes.
"The NRLA is concerned that tenants with outstanding COVID related rent debts are seeing these arrears increase," he said.
"Whilst landlords have done all they can to support affected tenants, they simply cannot afford for this situation to continue indefinitely."
It's not just rent that families are falling behind on when it comes to housing costs.
A Sun investigation found Brits owed a whopping £87.2million worth of council tax over the 2020/21 financial year.
That's up 35% from £64.5million recorded for the previous financial year.
How to get help with your rent
If you're struggling to pay your landlord, then there are ways to get help for meeting your bills.
Here's four ways to apply for extra cash or support.
Cash from your council
You can apply to your local council for financial help in paying your rent after the government announced £65million of funding for those in arrears.
The help was launched with the aim of helping low income families avoid losing their home and getting back on their feet paying their way.
The help is available through the winter months, and you have to apply for the help through your local council which you can find using the gov.uk's website.
The government said any payments were likely to be paid directly to the existing landlord, or to a new landlord if the money is used to support a household finding a new home.
Discretionary Housing Payment
If you are on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment – which gives you extra money for housing costs like rent, deposits and advances if you're moving house.
Each local authority dishes out the cash on a case-by-case basis – which means how much you get will depend on your personal situation.
Councils dished out a whopping £171million in Discretionary Housing Payments for the financial year ending March 2021 – up 30% the prior year at £132million.
Each council has its own application process – so you'll need to ask your own local authority for more information on its scheme.
Welfare Assistance schemes
Many local councils have welfare assistance schemes in place offering free cash, food vouchers, money for furniture and more.
In some cases, councils offer Brits help in paying rent.
A Sun investigation revealed that councils handing out grants have soared by 210% in some places.
Some councils, like East Riding of Yorkshire, are handing out up to £1,000 in free cash for families to put towards rent.
Again, what help you can get varies depending on who is your local council – in some cases, local authorities don't even have a scheme in place.
Contact your local council for more information.
Talk to your landlord
The first step you should take if you think you can't pay your rent bill is to talk to your landlord.
They might be open to charging your a lower rent rate while you get yourself back up and running.
You might also be able to set up an affordable repayment plan if you are already slipping behind on payments.
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