Claiming back Covid rent arrears

Hi all, I gave my tenants 50% rent reduction for 3 x months during lockdown due to them being furloughed etc, this was on the written agreement we would work out a repayment plan once back up to 100%. They are now back to 100% rent but have said they cannot afford the rent + bills any more and have given notice. When I said ok but they must pay back rent owing (£2.5k+) they said they couldn’t afford that and planned to use deposit money to pay last months rent and any over (£300 apx) to go towards back rent. I feel this is clearly breaking our agreement leaving me over £2k out of pocket and also leaves me nothing to cover any damage, unpaid bills etc. I’m not a professional landlord and have no idea how to proceed, any advice very gratefully received. Thanks.


You could take them to small claims court but if they genuinely can’t afford it and don’t have other assets then you you’re unlikely to get much if anything. Probably worth waiting to see if any damage as to whether it is worth the hassle of pursuing it. If tenants have genuinely made their best efforts at paying what they can then it might be worth just writing it off.

Sounds like you did more than what you had to and you have been stung.
If furlough was 80% of wages they could afforded 80% of rent surely. You could write to them telling them the deposit cannot be used for rent but doesn’t sound hopeful but at least it can go with all your other evidence that they haven’t done things by the book.

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thanks Richard, yes scc was my first thought though I imagine they’ll be inundated at a time like this but worth a look I dare say.

thanks Mr T, yes that’s pretty much how I feel really especially as all parties agreed to the repayment of unpaid rent down the line. I’ve suggested using deposit to pay arrear which will still leave me short but not as out of pocket as with this arrangement.

Never ever agree to accept deposit against due/unpaid rent or any other purpose. Not verbally or written - you are shooting yourself in the foot. If your tenant wants to let you keep the deposit in this way, ask yourself, how are they going to raise the deposit on their next tenancy? That is the source for your unpaid rent arrears in my view,

I have accepted the deposit to offset rent when a tenant leaves. How they get the deposit for their next place is not my concern


Well there is another side of it, if they do not pay and you pursue their credit record will reflect this. Tell them you are pursuing it.

If you are asked for a reference you must state debt owed.

Go for the back rent and last months rent as a payment and stick to that stance. The deposit is there in case of damages and any balance towards debt.

They must have money for the new deposit.

They can always borrow the money to pay you and then sort out repayments. Even if they have bad credit they can borrow at a higher interest rate.

Do not give way or you will be will be walked over. .

Check to see if unpaid debt can be a tax deductible write off when you pay your landlord taxation

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unpaid debt is not tax deductible, Simply if you did not receive the rent you have less profit so pay less tax


I’m assuming we are now other peoples keepers by your reply. We are each responsible for our own lives. Who’s going to pay our bills. They get 80% of their income we get nothing. When did we become social services? I was happy to accept less rent temporarily but taken for a ride? Not a chance.


I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. I’m saying that if your tenant is planning on moving to another property, they will need to pay a deposit on the new tenancy. They need money to do that or at least access to funds from somewhere. Those are the funds that you need try to chase down to cover the rent arrears. I am not advocating for any free rides.

Make a decision as to their future chances of getting back on their feet. Personally, I never rent to anyone who does not have something to lose with a CCJ to their name. Assuming you have done reasonable due diligence and they are likely to be solvent in the future, state your claim in writing and your willingness to defer until they can afford to start making repayments on condition they satisfy you of their circumstances and provide you with evidence of their financial situation (bank statements, income and outgoings etc). State this must be truthful as this may be used as evidence in the event an examination order is sought (a bit of bluff here) as a result of future action. Keep tabs on them and ask them to keep you notified of their situation and keep the debt current via a quarterly statement. When they are liquid ask them to pay in full or agree a payment plan under threat of court action. You can chase most unsecured debt for up to six years.

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Yeah lots of people having a hard time out there. Sounds like they are sincere about their money woes. Ive been without a tenant for six months because of COVID 19. I know this reply is about as useful as an iron parachute but I wish them luck in finding a cheaper place.

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Spot on Christine, you are right, we are akin to Social services. Very unfair for the individual landlords. Now the government in their wisdom have introduced no evictions for 6 months.

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Fortunately Linda I have had excellent tenants except for my 1st who was inherited with the property. Its hard for everyone except it seems landlords. How do people hold their heads up when they put their problems on others instead of dealing with them. If things continue to repress landlords the way they are and Shelter is the worst offender, then we shall sell up. Time will tell.

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thats because shelter directors are on a good salary, donations pay for it so they have to have an enemy to generate sympathy and donations ( and a good tax break)


Thanks for all your replies, very useful to get a range of opinions. Update is my appeal to their sense of duty has seen one of them clear his arrears in full and has said he will pay last months rent in full too so now the other to convince! Seeing as he’s just been on a short holiday I feel his claims of insolvency ring rather hollow. Worst case now is I take the deposit for half last months rent and other tenant’s owed rent and I’m a few hundred down, not idea but better than before and better than many others I see or read about. As a consequence though I think I’m going to sell up while the market is good, the thought of having someone in who can’t (won’t??) pay in the future and I can’t get them out for 6+ months terrifies me.


I agree.

I was asked by a couple last year because the got furloughed and asked me to reduce the rent. I said no but I would
defer it. Then they said they did not want to do that and paid full rent. Then a few months later, they ended the tenancy and at the end of year contract.
Then they moved into another flat in same building on top floor with terrace and paid more rent and also had to buy a new sofa. That’s what they told me on the last day and said that it was so hot in that flat they had to buy a fan too.

They just want try anything and everything.