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I’m a housing expert – how to get free cash worth £100s if you’re struggling with rent

MILLIONS of tenants are facing record rental prices across the UK – but there’s help on offer.

Recent figures from the ONS reveal UK private housing rental prices have increased by 15.6% since January 2015.

Renters can try five things to get extra help if they’re struggling with bills

Meanwhile, social housing tenants are facing an average bill hike of £340 from next year following the government’s Autumn Statement.

It comes amidst soaring food prices, with some shoppers now paying double what they were two years ago for the same product.

Plus, energy bills have spiked for millions across the UK following a surge in wholesale gas prices due to the war in Ukraine.

But there’s help on offer if rising rents mean you’re struggling.

The Sun spoke to Al McClenehan of Justice for Tenants, a non-profit organisation working to improve standards for rental properties and teaching tenants about their rights.

He offered his top five tips for renters looking to get extra help this winter.

Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is available to those on the lowest incomes to help get £150 off their energy bills.

It’s for households in England and Wales – but you don’t need to apply for the cash as you’ll get it automatically if you’re eligible.

You can get it in Scotland as well – but you may have to apply.

The money is dished out by energy suppliers if you were receiving certain benefits on or before August 21 this year.

However, if you later launch a successful claim for backdated benefits, you may still be able to qualify after this date.

Payments for this year will most likely start being made in December.

Al said: “This is targeted support from the government for those most in need, but most tenants entitled to the discount don’t even know about it.”

To get the payment you’ll need to be receiving one or more of the following benefits:

The £400 energy rebate

In May, then Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a raft of supportive measures for struggling households.

Amongst the package was a £400 energy rebate for millions of households.

The £400 payment has been split into six instalments which are being spread between October this year and March 2023.

In October and November the payments are worth £66, while in December, January, February and March they’re worth £67.

In most cases, the payments are being made to customers directly, but those on traditional pre-payment meters are being issued vouchers to redeem at their nearest top-up point.

Renters should get the £400 rebate as well, if they’re paying for all-inclusive bills.

Al said: “If your landlord pays the bills, you should still be receiving this and your landlord should pass the money on to you.”

If you think you’re eligible for the rebate but haven’t had anything yet, you can always try contacting your landlord to find out what’s going on.

If you think you’re entitled to the money and your landlord refuses, you can always take your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman – a free service which can help you resolve the issue.

Discretionary housing payments

These types of payments are to help with rent or housing costs.

You can apply for the funding through your local council if you are facing eviction because you can’t meet rental payments, for example.

But you can only apply for the help if you receive Housing Benefit or you’re receiving the housing element of Universal Credit and need more financial support with housing costs.

Plus, the funding is only available in England and Wales.

But, Al said you’ll need to proactively get in touch with your council to get the help.

He added: “There is a fund of roughly £100million each year for local councils to make these payments to prevent homelessness.

“To qualify, you will need to contact them with evidence of your financial hardship and risk of eviction.”

Make the most of Universal Credit

Universal Credit was designed to wrap a number of old legacy-style benefits into one.

And you can get help with rental costs through Universal Credit through what’s known as the housing payment.

It can be used to pay rent to a private landlord, housing association or local authority.

And you can use it to make interest payments on your mortgage and some service charges if you or a partner own the property you live in.

But lots of different eligibility rules apply so it might be best to seek out an advisor.

Or, Al suggested talking to your local Citizens Advice bureau.

Citizens Advice offers confidential information and advice to people with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other issues.

Al said: “Universal Credit is not easy to navigate, but it can be an essential lifeline to help when you are struggling financially.

“Citizens Advice is a wonderful organisation that has experience helping individuals access the benefits they are entitled to.”

Hardship grants

Depending on where you live, you might be eligible for a hardship grant – and you won’t have to pay it back.

Some charities offer them on a national level, but often you’ll find you can get them through local community groups or associations.

If you want to check out what’s available in your area, charity Turn2Us has a dedicated page here.

Al said: “If you are eligible, a grant can help you and your family get through a tricky winter.”

If you’re struggling to pay your debt, there are a number of services you can use to get free advice and help, including:

In other news, hundreds of thousands of water customers could get up to £90% off their water bill by doing one simple thing.

Plus, Universal Credit payments are set to be paid earlier for thousands this Christmas.

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