Five ways to get help with housing costs as record number of landlords hike rent | The Sun

STRUGGLING households can apply for help as a record number of landlords raise their rents.

Renters are seeing a rise in rates as landlords cash in on high demand for housing.

More people are putting their house buying plans on hold and looking to stick to renting instead.

The number of landlords who put up rents at the end of a tenancy rose to the highest ever recorded, according to estate agency Hamptons.

Nationally, 58% of new contracts signed so far this year were at a higher level than the previous one.

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.

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It's yet another blow to millions of people who are already feeling the pinch as the ongoing cost of living crisis rolls on.

A Sun investigation found that families owed a whopping £87.2million worth of council tax over the 2020/21 financial year.

If you're worried about making your next rent payment or concerned that you might not be able to keep a roof over your head, there are ways you can get help.

Cash from your council

The government announced £65 million of extra funding last year to help those in arrears.

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You can apply to your local council, and the cash is available to dish out through the winter months.

It is up to each council to decide who receives the funding and you should contact them directly if you need support.

You can find out what local authority you live in by using the government's website.

If you are eligible for help, it is likely the council will pay the money you've been granted directly to your landlord.

Household support fund

The Household Support Fund is also available through your local council.

It is a £500 million government programme – and the 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.

But the deadline to apply is looming – you have until September 30, 2022 to put in an application.

Welfare Assistance scheme

Many local councils will hand 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.

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 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're not guaranteed a set amount.

But recent research showed some councils were offering up to £4,500 to families.

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.

Talk to your landlord

If you're worried you won't be able to cover your costs, you should talk to your landlord.

By being upfront at the start, you could be more likely to renegotiate a better rate while you get yourself back up and running.

You could also ask for an affordable repayment plan to pay back what you owe.

What other help can I get?

If you're so behind on rent, your first step should be to talk to your landlord as soon as possible.

You might be able to work out a lower rent or set up a repayment plan.

You could also be eligible for a discount on your council tax bill.

Those living alone get 25% off, and you can get half your bill if you live with "disregarded people" – this means someone who doesn't pay council tax.

Citizens Advice has a full list of who qualifies for this.

Universal Credit claimants may be able to get Housing Benefit.

You should apply for this through your local council, who will assess your circumstances to decide how much you could get.

Can my landlord put up my rent?

Your landlord can't increase your rent at will, or by any amount.

They have to follow certain rules that depend on the type of tenancy that you have.

You can check what type of tenancy you have using Shelter's tenancy rights checker.

The tool can be used even if you don't have a written tenancy agreement.

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If you disagree with your rent increase, you should speak to your landlord and try to reach an agreement to pay a lower rent.

If you can't reach an agreement, contact your nearest Citizen's Advice for help.

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