What to do if you're worried about paying your rent or you're in rent arrears.
We're aware that many tenants' financial circumstances have changed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
We're following government advice and are contacting and working with tenants who are having problems paying their rent at this time.
Contact us as soon as possible if you're having problems paying your rent.
If you're having problems paying your rent call us on 0117 922 2200 and we'll do all we can to help.
Our phone lines are open 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
We can help and advise you on how to deal with your rent arrears and put you in touch with other organisations that can offer specialist help and support if needed.
If you need to contact us out of hours, use our rents enquiry form.
Manage your payments
To help manage your payments, you could:
- setup a payment arrangement with us
- setup a pdf Direct Debit (257 KB) , to make sure the payment is made on time and choose the day your payment is made
There are other services which could help you pay your rent:
- discounts and exemptions: check if you could pay less council tax
- council tax reduction: this is a type of benefit for people on low income
- benefits and money advice: get free advice if you're having debt problems
- if you have problems setting up an account with a high street bank, you could try a community bank like Bristol Credit Union
If we need to speak to you about paying your rent, we may send you a recorded message to let you know.
If you receive a message from us, you can transfer through to speak to us for free by pressing 1 on your keypad.
The numbers we'll use to call you are:
- 0117 205 0165
- 0117 205 0064
If you miss the call, we'll send a text message along with our contact number.
If you call us, you will be charged but we will ring straight back so you don't run up any unnecessary costs.
We will never ask you for bank or card details over the phone, unless we're processing a payment to your rent account and data protection checks have already been completed.
We might ask for your name and date of birth.
We will never ask you to send us personal or financial information via text message.
Debt advice in Bristol
We fund a number of independent advice agencies in Bristol that give free specialist legal advice on debt.
If you've any rent arrears you should seek specialist advice from one of the agencies listed below:
- Citizens Advice Bristol
- North Bristol Advice Centre
- South Bristol Advice Services
- St Pauls Advice Centre
- Talking Money
There are also budgeting projects that can help you manage your money better.
Check to see if you can claim any benefits
Use our benefits calculator. The following websites also show whether you might be entitled, how you can claim and how much you might get.
- Bereavement benefits: GOV.UK: 0845 606 0265
- Carers allowance: GOV.UK: 0845 608 4321
- Child benefit: GOV.UK: 0845 302 1444
- Disability and sickness benefits: GOV.UK: 0800 882 200
- Housing benefit and council tax reduction
- Pension credit: GOV.UK: 0800 991 234
- Tax credits: GOV.UK: 0345 300 3900
- Jobseekers allowance (unemployment benefits):GOV.UK: 0800 055 6688
Local advice services
- Age UK
- Bristol MIND
- Centre for Sustainable Energy (energy saving advice)
- Citizens Advice Bureau: 0844 499 4718
- East Bristol Information and Advice Centre: 0117 965 5133
- Macmillian: 0117 946 2563 (welfare benefits advice for those affected by cancer)
- Talking Money: 0117 954 3990 (debt advice only)
- Welfare Rights and Money Advice
- Wellaware (guide to health, wellbeing and community services in Bristol)
National advice services
- National Debt Line Go to https://www.nationaldebtline.org/ (opens new window): 0808 808 4000
- Shelter Go to https://england.shelter.org.uk/ (opens new window): 0808 800 4444 (housing, benefit, financial advice)
- The Money Advice Service Go to https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk (opens new window)
- Turn2us Go to http://www.turn2us.org.uk/ (opens new window) (welfare benefits and grants)
- www.gov.uk Go to https://www.gov.uk/ (opens new window) (government services)
Help with budgeting
- pdf Financial statement (33 KB) : It's helpful to make a list of all the money that you have coming in and going out (financial statement). You can use this when dealing with your creditors, to explain your circumstances and negotiate lower repayments.
- pdf Making the most of your money booklet (759 KB) : tips and advice on budgeting
- pdf Basic bank account leaflet (186 KB)
Increase your income
Get back into work with help from the Move On project
Move On offer free, confidential advice and support with:
- Carrying out job searches.
- Creating or updating your CV.
- Filling in application forms.
- Carrying out job searches.
- Interview practice.
Contact Move On for a one to one appointment.
- Telephone: 0117 978 1708 and ask for Move On.
- Email: MoveOnAdvisors@outlook.com
Get back into work or set up your own business
The following websites offer help to find work, get training or start your own business.
- Business West (specialist advice for those with professional skills who want to set up an run a small business)
- City of Bristol College (Into work courses and work clubs)
- Bristol courses (skills for work courses)
- Gov.uk (everything you need to find a job)
- National Careers Service
Other ways to increase your income
- Take in a lodger (this may affect your benefit entitlement).
- Get grown up children living at home to help you with the bills.
Reduce your outgoings
Cut your expenses by shopping around for cheaper deals on bills such as gas electricity, telephone and insurance. You could use one of the websites below that compare prices for these services:
- Money Supermarket
- Switch with Which
- Visit Cable.co.uk - an Ofcom accredited service. Helping you quickly and easily compare broadband, TV, landline and mobile packages from the UK's leading providers.
Manage your money
There are ways of spreading costs to fit in with your income, so that it is easier to manage your money:
- Rent: arrange with the Rent Management Service to pay your rent fortnightly or monthly. Remember that you must pay in advance.
- Council tax: contact council tax on 0117 922 2900 to rearrange payment times.
- Gas and electricity: key or card meters, or weekly, monthly payment cards.
- Telephone: pay as you go.
- TV Licence: use the TV Licensing payment card to pay weekly or monthly. See the TV Licensing website for more information.
- Bristol Water and Wessex Water have combined payments. Ask for fortnightly or monthly payment books. If you are on income support water charges can be taken from your benefit. You can also ask for a deduction to be made for arrears off rent and council tax.
- If you receive income support or job seekers allowance, employment support allowance or pension credit. Ask the Department for Work and Pensions for a weekly deduction to be made from your benefit. This is to pay towards rent, council tax and water charge arrears.
You can also sign up for a Bristol Account where you can check your rent balance and other housing payments online at any time.
Borrowing money or buying on credit
If you're considering borrowing money or buying on credit make sure:
- You can afford any repayments, now and in the future
- You do so through a reputable company or credit union. Do not use illegal money lenders.
- You read and understand all the small print.
- That you have enough money left to pay your priority bills such as your rent.
What to do if you have creditors
Creditors, such as banks and loan companies may:
- Try to persuade people to keep up their payments when they can no longer afford to do so.
- Threaten bailiffs and court action.
You can persuade them to accept a lower figure. If you can't and they take you to court, you should:
- Get help from a debt advice agency.
- Fill in the court forms, giving details of your financial situation, especially your income and essential expenses.
- Offer a monthly repayment that you're sure you can afford to keep up after you've paid your essential expenses, such as your rent.