Debt advice for tenants with unpaid rents

Program basics

  • Professional advisers work with tenants to address debt, helping to create repayment plans, budgets, and other good financial practices
  • Programs are delivered one-on-one, either in person or remotely
  • Many programs include mediation services between tenants and landlords, credit counseling, rental insurance, and other tenant protection services
  • Potentially more effective when used preemptively, before debt levels become substantial

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)


Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Target population

Low- and moderate-income adults and families

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Federal programs first authorized in 1968

Outcomes and impact

  • Some evidence of reduced participant debt levels and evictions
  • Reduced borrowers' risk of default and delinquency
  • 22% return on investment for landlords through reduced debt and associated costs, according to one UK estimate

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Debt counseling should be provided before tenants owe large amounts of rent or face eviction.
  • Landlords and public housing agencies should track overdue rent and encourage tenants to obtain debt counseling to prevent unpaid rent from accumulating.
  • Debt counseling that helps participants address multiple financial issues (beyond unpaid rent) produces particularly strong outcomes.

Similar programs