Definition of arrears in US English:


plural noun

  • Money that is owed and should have been paid earlier.

    ‘he was suing the lessee for the arrears of rent’
    • ‘York housing chiefs today unveiled plans to make savings by toughening up on the collection of rent arrears.’
    • ‘Every two weeks, the council reassesses the balance-sheets on outstanding rent arrears.’
    • ‘Two weeks ago the Keighley News revealed that she had stood for election even though she was in council tax arrears.’
    • ‘The level of rent arrears does not, and cannot, affect the level of residents' council tax.’
    • ‘Reducing arrears means more money for services and housing improvements.’
    • ‘Camden council, where I live, never tires of bragging of how it evicts people with rent arrears.’
    • ‘She had been planning to sell the perfume and use the cash to pay off her rent arrears.’
    • ‘Her arrears dated back several years and had built up because she had struggled financially as a single mother.’
    • ‘She agreed that all the money was now gone but said most of it had gone towards repayment of debts and arrears.’
    • ‘The report says a record number of people are getting into debt and that the most common debt in Scotland is council tax arrears.’
    • ‘The accountants may not withdraw from the court until all debts and arrears are fully paid.’
    • ‘The council is chasing a total of £4.7m in rent arrears throughout the borough.’
    • ‘He's fallen into arrears, and the mortgage company is repossessing it on Monday.’
    • ‘Because of rent arrears, the district council repossessed the building in 2000.’
    • ‘However, the city of New York was about to foreclose on the building for arrears of property taxes.’
    • ‘There is need to end the problem of housing allowance arrears once and for all.’
    • ‘One side of the Council is issuing housing benefit, while on the other it takes court action when arrears build up.’
    • ‘The company owes six million leva in VAT and a further six million leva in other tax arrears.’
    • ‘After all, the arrears of rent were quite small compared to the alleged value of the inventory.’
    • ‘They wait until the arrears accumulate before they can take any action at all.’
    money owing, outstanding payment, outstanding payments, debt, debts, liabilities, indebtedness, dues
    View synonyms


  • in arrears

    • 1Behind in paying money that is owed.

      ‘two out of three tenants are in arrears’
      • ‘The owner of the property Mr G Richardson has told me that you are more than 8 weeks in arrears with your rent payments.’
      • ‘On 15th February 2000 a standard automated letter was sent by the Claimant to all of its customers who were in arrears and making payments by cheque or cash, in order to offer an incentive to customers to pay by standing order.’
      • ‘He resides with his mother and sister and is more than $4, 000.00 in arrears on the $500.00 monthly rent he had agreed to pay there.’
      • ‘OIC assistant director of housing Mr John Richards explained that 165 out of Orkney's 900 council house tenants were in arrears.’
      • ‘His landlord gives him a week's notice to quit the house, although he is not in arrears of rent or otherwise in breach of his tenancy.’
      • ‘After the U.S. government fell millions of dollars behind in arrears in the late 1990s, the United States almost lost its voting rights in the General Assembly.’
      • ‘He said the report would lead to an improvement plan, which would bolster the mediation service offered in neighbour disputes, and get tougher on tenants in arrears.’
      • ‘Although he should be earning extra money because he rents out both properties, one of his tenants is $3,700 in arrears.’
      • ‘The position is similar for claims of set-off, under which a respondent may resist payment of a debt on the basis that the claimant is in arrears with respect to contractual payments owing to the respondent.’
      • ‘The length some accounts had been in arrears meant that the eventual recovery of money was doubtful and could have a very negative effect on the financial position of some TLCs.’
      • ‘I say that because the husband has already secretly pocketed the proceeds of a life insurance policy that he cashed without proper disclosure to his wife and appears to be willfully in arrears of his monthly support obligations.’
      • ‘In a statement, the council said: ‘There are four councillors in arrears with their rent.’’
      • ‘As if for good measure, Saunders adds that the number of households at least three months in arrears in their mortgage payments in the first half of last year rose 15% on the same period a year previously.’
      • ‘A number of property owners are in arrears with payment of rates and taxes.’
      • ‘Ten per cent of home owners are in arrears with their mortgage payments - and this in an economy that up to a couple of months ago was virtually fully employed.’
      • ‘She was £300 in arrears with her rent, a situation she blamed on City of York Council's refusal to pay backdated housing benefit.’
      • ‘This particular tenant was about three months in arrears for one of our apartments, which meant, in cash terms, about £2,500.’
      • ‘In September 1998, whilst this company was still in occupation, it had been placed in receivership, and was in arrears of rent and service charge.’
      • ‘But you'll have to agree that for medical aid schemes to be in arrears with payments for as long as 120 days - some have made no payments since January - is unforgivable.’
      • ‘He said in areas such as Kingsway West, a significant number of tenants were in arrears and over the next three years, the homes will receive new kitchens and bathrooms.’
      • ‘The wife has complained that at various times the husband's spousal support payments fell in arrears and this further contributed to her stress.’
      • ‘In July 1997, Second Company was in arrears on its payments to Industrial Lending.’
      • ‘The Husband shall therefore directly pay the educational institutions for these fees on the date the invoices are provided to him by the children or by the Wife, and he shall not be in arrears of such payments.’
      • ‘He was told prior to commencing his distribution arrangement with Joncor that Joncor was in arrears in payment to its previous distributor.’
      behind, behindhand, late, overdue, in the red, in default, in debt
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1(of payments made or due for wages, rent, etc.) at the end of each period of work or occupancy.
        ‘you will be paid monthly in arrears’
        • ‘The IFA man also expressed concern to the Department that the payments will be made in arrears at the end of each year of the five-year plan compared to REPS where the payments are made at the start of each year.’
        • ‘There was at least one adjustment because of a decision to make maintenance payments in arrears.’
        • ‘The Hills, however, struck to their game plan and managed to eliminate $40,000 in arrears, including two car notes and about seven credit card balances.’
        • ‘Payment of rent at six-monthly intervals gives rise to an annual tenancy and, since rent had been paid and accepted in arrears, law would presume that it was a term of the legal lease that rent should be paid in this manner.’
        • ‘A further alignment of EFT payments with that of other payment methods, including the elimination of the week in arrears payment, is being kept under review by his Department.’
        • ‘Subsequently, CPPI changed its position and demanded payment of the taxes that were in arrears and appointed a receiver manager in respect of the property.’
        • ‘The Commission Scheme is based on gross margin on sales generated each month and is paid monthly in arrears…’
        • ‘In 1879, President Hayes signed a bill to award qualifying soldiers and survivors payments in arrears, if they had not applied as soon as they qualified.’
        • ‘Nearly all councils in Zambia are owing their workers millions of Kwacha in arrears and were looking up to Government to release grants to settle the wage bills.’
        • ‘The minister admitted landlords were worried about unreliable tenants holding the cash, but a safeguard meant any cases where rent was eight weeks in arrears would see payments revert back to the landlord.’
        • ‘Wage payments were three months in arrears, and some officers had received potatoes in lieu of pay.’
        • ‘Whether the rent is payable in advance or in arrears has in present circumstances no bearing whatever upon that function.’
        • ‘Buildings for the programme are identified and prioritised by the Johannesburg Property Company when the money owed in arrears to the City is more than the value of the building and legal action to recover the debt has not been successful.’
        • ‘If the remedy is exercised prior to the rent falling in arrears, the distress will be considered illegal, and the landlord will be liable in damages to the owner of the goods distrained upon…’
        • ‘The SHO suggested that as he had been reinstated, he would receive a lot of money in arrears.’
        • ‘You will be paid a basic salary of £4,000 per annum, payable in arrears, on the last working Friday of each calendar month.’
        • ‘In the March issue I was interested in Paul Lewis's article on weekly payment of retirement pensions, rather than monthly in arrears.’
        • ‘It was in response to this that the workers set up their protest camp to publicise their demands for the payment of wages in arrears, free health care and compensation for ‘grave injury to health’.’
        • ‘The corresponding provision with regard to basic pay in the men's contract is less specific and refers to a national agreement from which the rate of wages to be paid weekly in arrears is to be determined.’
        • ‘The benefit of this arrangement to the artist is that tax is payable in arrears instead of immediately the receipts come in and it is paid in accordance with accounts which can make due allowance for all properly deductible expenses.’


Middle English (first used in the phrase in arrear): from arrear (adverb) ‘behind, overdue’, from Old French arere, from medieval Latin adretro, from ad- ‘towards’ + retro ‘backwards’.