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Get help with renting costs

This advice applies to England

You might be able to get benefits or grants to help you with the cost of renting from a private landlord or through a letting agent.

It’s important to work out what you’ll need to pay before you move in, so you'll know if you can afford to rent the property.

Payments you’ll usually need to make include:

  • rent in advance - this is usually between 1 and 2 months' rent, but can be up to 6 months' rent
  • a tenancy deposit - this is usually 1 to 2 months’ rent
  • letting agency fees - for references, credit checks and paperwork

You might need to pay a holding deposit. This is usually 1 to 2 weeks’ rent and stops anyone else from renting the property until you’ve passed all the checks.

Once you move in, your holding deposit will usually be taken off your tenancy deposit or rent in advance.

Read more information about how much it costs to rent.

You’ll also need to budget for your rent and regular bills - for example gas, electricity and council tax. Our budgeting tool can help you work out how much money you’ll need to pay your bills.

If you can’t pay your rent

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you don’t have enough money to live on.

You might be able to get help with emergency expenses if you need food or money quickly.

Help paying your tenancy deposit

It can be difficult to save up for a deposit, particularly if you’re on a low income.

Your local council might be able to cover the cost of your deposit through a rent deposit scheme or rent guarantee scheme.

A rent deposit scheme lends you money in advance to pay a tenancy deposit, which you’ll pay back over time.

A rent guarantee scheme (or bond scheme) gives your landlord a written guarantee - known as a bond - instead of a cash deposit. If you have problems paying your deposit, the scheme provider will use the bond to pay your landlord - this means you don't have to pay the deposit yourself.

You might have to repay the scheme provider any money paid out through the bond.

You might also be able to get a deposit through a homelessness prevention fund or social services. You might need to pay the money back over time - every council has different rules.

Get more information from your local council.

Check if you can get benefits

You might be able to get extra money to help you pay your rent.

You might be able to get Housing Benefit if you:

  • are on a low income with savings below £16,000 - this will depend on your circumstances
  • rent a property
  • are a UK resident

Read more about Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit that is replacing Housing Benefit. You might be able to claim the housing element of UC to help you pay your rent.

Check if you should claim UC.

Not all landlords accept tenants who get benefits. Check if your local council has a list of landlords and letting agencies who rent to people getting Housing Benefit. You can get contact details for your local council on GOV.UK.

You might be able to get other benefits to help with your renting costs if you're on a low income. Use our benefits calculator to find out what you can claim.

Getting a guarantor

You might be able to get a landlord to accept you if you have a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who will agree to pay your rent if you can’t, for example if you lose your job.

If you already get benefits

You might be able to get extra money if you're already claiming benefits. The extra money you could get depends on what benefits you're claiming.

If you get income-related benefits, for example income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, you might be able to get a budgeting loan.

A budgeting loan can help you pay:

  • rent in advance
  • other moving costs, for example hiring a van or buying new furniture if the place is unfurnished.

You'll need to repay the loan. Read more information on budgeting loans on GOV.UK.

If your benefits don't pay all your rent

If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all of your rent and you need more money, you could make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent.

You need to claim Housing Benefit or the housing costs part of Universal Credit to get a DHP. You can ask your local council for a claim form.

It's a good idea to keep a copy of the form for your records.

Your local council doesn’t have to give you a DHP - it depends on your circumstances. If you can’t pay your rent and you can’t get a DHP, you should talk to your landlord as soon as possible. Read more about getting help with rent arrears.

Speak to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help filling in a DHP claim form.

Check if you can pay less council tax

You might be able to pay less council tax by claiming ‘council tax reduction’.

You could get a council tax reduction if you:

  • have a low income or get benefits
  • have less than £16,000 in savings
  • live in the property you want to pay less council tax for
  • are responsible for paying council tax

You might be able to pay less council tax even if you’re not on a low income or getting benefits. This is called a council tax discount. You can apply if you live on your own or are the only adult in your home. Read more about council tax discount on GOV.UK.

You might not have to pay any council tax, for example if:

  • you or someone you live with has a severe mental disability
  • you’re a carer for someone who isn’t your partner or child

Find out whether you can pay less council tax.

Other help and support you can get

You might be able to get other benefits to help with your renting costs if you’re on a low income. Use our benefits calculator to find out what you can claim.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to find out if any charities in your area can help with your renting costs.

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