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Dealing with rent arrears – advice for Scottish residents

Sharon McDougall - Updated - 7th May 2024 - 4 minutes to read

Dealing with rent debt in Scotland

Keeping up with your rent isn’t easy for a lot of Scottish residents, particularly during the Cost of Living crisis. If you’ve found yourself unable to pay your landlord or have already fallen behind in your rent, you should ensure you take action sooner rather than later to sort out your rent arrears.

Leaving rent arrears to continue to grow without taking any action can lead to a situation in which you’re forced out of your home. Once you fall into debt with your rent, your landlord is likely to start putting increasing amounts of pressure on you to bring your rental account up to date. Leaving a property with rental debt can make it much more difficult for you to find another property to rent in the future.

What is the advice for renters in Scotland who cannot pay their landlord?

If you cannot pay your rent, you should make it a priority to speak to your landlord or lettings agency and make them aware of the situation. Ignoring the problem will only make the situation worse. You may be able to enter into negotiations to pay back the missing rent in a series of installments; depending on the situation, you may need to consider a formal personal insolvency solution such as a Trust Deed, particularly if you have other debts in addition to your rent arrears.

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Should I talk to my landlord if I cannot pay the rent?

If you’re struggling with rent arrears then the first thing you should do is inform your landlord of the problems you’re facing. It’s understandable that you might be reluctant to speak to your landlord if you can’t pay your rent in full but the issue cannot be resolved unless you’re willing to communicate.

Opening a dialogue with your landlord early on considerably increases the prospects of reaching a payment agreement that you can afford and that your landlord is happy with. The alternative is ongoing uncertainty and, in many cases, a great deal of stress, doubt and fear over what the consequences of not paying your rent might be – whilst losing the trust of your landlord in the meantime.

Can I negotiate my rent arrears with my landlord?

Problems with rent arrears usually require a concerted effort and a workable plan of action in order to be resolved in a way that doesn’t involve eviction. Generally, a landlord will not want to see their tenant forced to leave a particular premises because they are struggling financially and they may well be flexible enough to see rent arrears repaid over an extended period.

This isn’t to suggest that landlords are always willing to negotiate, but a tenant willing to solve the issues around rent arrears are often welcomed as cost-effective and preferable options to eviction from a landlords’ perspective.

If you can reach an agreement over how to pay off your rent arrears in full, you should pay off as much of any outstanding amounts as possible in order to improve your position and lessen the risk of your being evicted. If your landlord eventually takes you to court then it will play in your favour that you were prepared to pay a proportion of your rent arrears even where an agreement has not been reached.

Can I arrange a rent arrears repayment plan?

It is possible to arrange a repayment plan for your rent arrears, although this is likely to depend on how much rent you owe and how long the situation has gone on for. If you are able to successfully negotiate a rent arrears repayment plan with your landlord, then it is very much in your interests to ensure you keep up with the agreed repayments. Failing to pay money to your landlord in line with a pre-arranged strategy is likely to lead to legal action aimed at evicting you from your home.

What are my options for dealing with rent debt to my landlord?

As with every form of personal debt, it is crucially important to understand the options available to you if you can’t afford to pay your rent on time or in full. This is particularly true of a situation in which your landlord is attempting to obtain a court order to evict you, which can happen under certain circumstances even if you manage to settle your debts and pay back your arrears.

But whatever your situation is in relation to unpaid rent arrears, it’s generally well worth speaking to a personal debt expert to decide on how you might best proceed.

You can call Scotland Debt Solutions to arrange a free consultation with one of our debt experts. We have many years' experience helping residents of Scotland with their rent arrears and solving problems with their landlord

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Sharon McDougall


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