Advice Column: Housing Costs

Thursday 2nd September

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on housing costs.


I am renting and have an assured shorthold tenancy. I have been struggling to pay the rent for a few months. I am employed full time but my wages were reduced because of furlough. I am only just managing with my other bills and spending. Now I am falling behind on my rent payments and I am worried about losing my home. What can I do to stop this from happening?


It’s good you’ve looked for help. This is the first step to staying in your home. Rent arrears, like council tax debt or mortgage arrears, are a priority debt. Non-payment can cause serious problems, such as losing your home.


If the landlord says they plan to evict you, have served you with an eviction notice, or you have letters from court, get advice urgently.


Go through correspondence from your landlord. Compare payments you’ve made to the amount of arrears due, to make sure the numbers agree. Speak to them about why you’re struggling with your rent.


Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and energy, and take these away from your income. Use the Citizens Advice budgeting tool and benefits calculator to see if you can increase your income. Try to find cheaper deals on your energy, phone and broadband. Put any spare money towards your debts.


If you’re able to pay off some of the arrears, your landlord may agree to a payment plan, enabling you to pay smaller amounts. Be clear and realistic about your budget. If they don’t agree a plan, or if you feel unable to negotiate alone, get advice.


The payment plan should be written down and signed by the landlord. They can’t evict you without going to court. But if you do get evicted, ask the council for help with housing and benefits. Contact them immediately, they can help you stay in your home.


For further help with your budget, negotiating a rent payment plan, or eviction advice, visit


The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit