Struggling to Pay?

What Should I do if I can't pay my rent?

If you are unable to pay your rent, for any reason you should:

  • Contact the housing team immediately (CONTACT US)
  • If you think you might be entitled to housing benefits, contact the housing benefit team on 0300 1234 105 (option 2)  to make an application
  • Seek independent advice on debts, money management, and rent arrears from agencies like the citizens Advice Bureau (03444 99 41 88) or the national Debt Line (0808 808 4000)


Help with paying you rent

If you are on a low income, or having financial problems, check if you qualify for any benefits - such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, tax credits or Universal Credit. You don't have to be out of work to claim benefits and you could qualify for more than one. For benefits advice contact the benefits team on 0300 1234 105 (option 2)

You should also consider seeking advice from a debt advice agency, which should be able to advise you on how to maximise your benefits and about any additional benefits you may be able to claim. they may also be able to assist you with filling out the forms and ensuring that any claims are not held by incomplete paperwork.

What can happen if you don't pay your rent?

Landlords usually have the right to seek a court order to evict you for rent arrears. The rules about when and how a landlord may evict you for rent arrears differ according to the type of tenancy agreement you have. You will either have an introductory, a five year flex, or a secure tenancy. 

Introductory tenancy: An introductory tenancy lasts for the first year of a council tenancy (it can be extended if legal action has been taken or if you break any of the tenancy conditions) and the tenant has fewer rights than five year flex or a secure tenant. It is easier for the council to repossess during this introductory period if tenancy conditions are broken or the rent is not paid. However, if the rent is paid and tenancy conditions are complied with, the tenancy will automatically become a Five Year Flex tenant after one year. 

Secure Tenancy: You will remain a secure tenant for as long as you live at the property as your sole or principal home. This tenancy also means that the only way to can be made to give up your home is through an Order from the County Court. To get such an Order it must be clear that one of the grounds for possession applies, such as breaking your tenancy agreement.

Arrears caused by Housing Benefit Problems

Sometimes, rent arrears arise as a result of problems with claiming and processing Housing Benefit and other entitlements. If your Housing Benefit hasn't been paid, contact the council's benefits teams on 0300 1234 105 (option 2) to find out what is happening. There could be a backlog, or they might need more information to deal with your claim. You must keep in contact with the housing team and advise them of why your rent has not been paid. 

Do seek advice from an independent adviser who may be able to assist you with making a claim; incomplete paperwork will hold up your claim.

Other help & advice


Shelter offers face-to-face, phone, email and online advice about any housing problem (not just homelessness).

Telephone: 0344 515 1880 (Legal appointments line only) or 
Shelter National Helpline: 0808 800 4444

Shelter Devon, Ernest English House, Buckwell Street, Plymouth PL1 2DA


Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

The CAB offers free, confidential advice face-to-face or by phone. Most CAB's also offer home visits, and some give email advice.

Telephone: 0800 144 8848

CAB drop in centres in Cornwall:

Liskeard - Duchy House, 21 Dean Street, Liskeard, Cornwall, PL14 4AB

Bodmin - Shire House, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL31 2DQ

Saltash - Ground Floor, 18 Belle Vue Road, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6ES

Truro - The Library, Union Place, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 1EP

Falmouth - Mulberry Passage, Market Stand, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3DB

Camborne - Camborne Community Centre, South Terrace, Camborne, Cornwall, TR14 8SU

Penzance - YMCA, Alverton Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4TE


National Debtline

National Debtline is a free, confidential service offering independent advice about dealing with debt. You can get information online or by calling the free helpline: 

Free helpline: 0808 808 4000