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How do I pay rent if my income has fallen?

I cannot work and am worried about being able to pay my rent

Unless your landlord has explicitly and directly confirmed otherwise, you are liable to pay rent. We have more information about speaking to your landlord here.

If you are facing a loss of income you may be able to apply for Universal Credit, which includes support with rent.  If you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re eligible. You should tell your employer as soon as possible.

If you cannot afford to cover your rent, your council may be able to help on the basis that it is not reasonable for you continue to occupy your current accommodation.


  • You are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if you are are staying at home with coronavirus symptoms or otherwise on government advice. If you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay you will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of illness. If you need evidence for your employer, you can get an isolation note through the NHS online. Read more about Statutory Sick Pay
  • If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. Read more
  • If you’re self-employed you can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The 7 waiting days for new claimants will not apply if you are suffering from coronavirus symptoms or are required to stay at home.

If you have lost work, or are on a low income, you can claim Universal Credit:

  • Universal Credit contains a housing element (local housing allowance) to cover the full rent for the cheapest 30% of rented homes in a local area. For many renters this is not enough and it may be possible to request a Discretionary Housing Payment through your council.
  • To check what you’re able to claim, visit a free benefit calculator, such as entitledto. In October 2021, eligibility for Universal Credit was widened so you may be entitled to claim even if you were not before.
  • Universal Credit is currently paid monthly, in arrears. That means you could have to wait up to 5 weeks before receiving a payment. It’s important that you communicate with your landlord if you are struggling to pay your rent. We have outlined our advice below.
  • If you can’t wait for your first payment, you can apply for a month’s advance up front, which you will have to pay back over a period of 12 months.
  • Read more about Universal Credit


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Individual Advice

Generation Rent can’t offer advice about individual problems. Here are a few organisations that can:

You might also find quick but informal help on ACORN’s Facebook forum, and there are more suggestions on The Renters Guide.