Payment of rent in England according to English shelter law

Rent must be paid weekly or monthly to landlords or their agents in order to avoid possession proceedings or money judgments.

This information is applicable to England.

Rent becomes due on the morning of the day specified for payment in the lease or tenancy agreement, but it is not overdue until midnight on that day, and the landlord has no cause of action until then. [1] Although rent can be paid on Sundays, if the due date falls on a bank holiday, it will not be paid until the following day. [2]

Unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement, rent is payable in arrears. Most tenancy agreements require rent to be paid in advance. Rent is due at the same intervals as the tenancy period, for example, weekly or monthly for a weekly or monthly periodic tenancy. Note that the day on which rent is payable does not always coincide with the start day of a tenancy period when calculating the correct notice period to end a tenancy.  

The tenant must pay rent to the landlord or their agent. Rent paid by the tenant's husband, wife, or civil partner is treated the same as rent paid by the tenant. [3] Payment made on behalf of the tenant by someone else must be authorized or ratified by them.

The tenant is required to pay the rent at any location specified in the contract, or to seek payment from the landlord.

If the landlord refuses to accept the rent, the tenant should save it in a separate account and make regular attempts to pay it.

It is a common law rule that rent paid in advance cannot be apportioned on a time basis, regardless of how the tenancy ended, unless the tenancy agreement expressly states otherwise. [4] As a result, if a monthly tenancy with rent payable in advance on the first of the month ends before the end of a period of the tenancy, the tenant will:

  • not be entitled to a proportionate refund of advance rent, and

  • I owe the entire month's rent, which became due on January 1st.

This rule does not apply to assured shorthold tenancies granted on or after October 1, 2015, where the tenancy ends due to the service of a section 21 notice.

Rent to be paid in arrears can be apportioned where the tenancy ends during a period of the tenancy [5]

The landlord must provide the tenant with an address where notices can be served on the landlord. If the landlord fails to do so, the rent is considered unpaid. [6] However, once the requirement is met, rent is due from the start of the tenancy. The information must be provided in writing, but it can take any form, and including the address in the tenancy agreement is sufficient. [7]

A tenant should not pay rent by mail unless instructed to do so by the landlord, and payment should be made in cash. A cash-paying tenant should request a receipt of payments from their landlord in case of a dispute.

Tenants frequently mail rent checks to their landlord. If a cheque is lost in the mail, it is the tenant's responsibility to make up the difference.

When a tenant offers a cheque as payment, it amounts to a conditional payment of the cheque's amount. If the landlord or their agent accepts the cheque, it becomes a payment as of the time it was delivered by the tenant. [8]

A landlord may refuse to accept cheque payments.

Although rent can be paid in cash or by check if the landlord agrees, many tenants pay rent by setting up a standing order with their bank. The tenant can arrange for a payment to be made to the landlord's bank account on a specific date.

A bank standing order is equivalent to cash payment. The tenant is considered to have made the payment as soon as it leaves their account

Learn more about opening and managing a bank account.

When rent is paid weekly and does not include a significant amount for meals, the landlord must provide a rent book or equivalent. [9] The term 'payable weekly' indicates that the tenant's obligation to pay rent arises on a weekly basis. There is a distinction between the contractual periods when rent is due and the periods when rent is actually paid. [10] This means that the rent could be due weekly, and the landlord must provide a rent book even if the tenant only pays the landlord fortnightly or monthly.

The tenant is not excused from paying rent if a rent book is not provided. [11] A rent book must include the landlord's name and address, the amount of rent due, and the type of tenancy. Failure to comply is an offense[13], and a local authority tenancy relations officer may take action against the landlord. If the local authority does not have a tenancy relations officer, the tenant should be referred to a specialist adviser so that they are aware of all their options. Before taking action against the landlord, the tenant must carefully consider their security of tenure and the likelihood of eviction.

Although it is not a legal requirement for the landlord to provide a rent book for tenancies where the rent is payable less frequently than weekly, keeping a rent book as a record of rent paid is good practice.

If a tenant fails to pay the rent, resulting in rent arrears, landlords may be able to:

  • start the possession process

  • apply for a money judgment to recoup the owed rent

Learn more about where to get help with rent arrears.

A money judgment is a court order that requires one party (in this case, the tenant) to pay a certain amount of money to the other party (the landlord).

Money judgments and orders for costs entered in possession proceedings are exempt from the register of judgments, orders, and fines. This means that the information is not available to credit reference agencies, potential landlords, or creditors conducting searches. However, if the landlord takes action to enforce the money judgment by requesting a warrant of control, attachment of earnings, or charging order, the application will be registered. [14] A former landlord's reference may include information about a possession order and/or a monetary judgment.

Last modified: December 21, 2022

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