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Get help with renting costs

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

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’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.

You might be able cover the cost of your deposit through the Smartmove Housing scheme. You won’t pay a full deposit straight away. You’ll pay part of a deposit before you move in. You’ll then pay the rest in affordable payments during the first 6 months of your tenancy. Read more about Smartmove.

Check if you can get Housing Benefit

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.

How much Housing Benefit you’ll get depends on your circumstances. Check how much you could get using this calculator from Turn2us.

Not all landlords accept tenants who get benefits. Check if the Housing Executive 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 nidirect.

You can claim Housing Benefit to help pay your rates. If Housing Benefit doesn’t cover the full cost of your rates, you might be able to get extra help through Rate Relief.

Rate Relief is extra money you can get to help pay your rates if you’re on a low income. You might also be able to get Rate Relief if you’re just outside the income limit for Housing Benefit. Find out more about Rate Relief.

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.

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, 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 you get benefits, you might be able to apply for a loan to help you pay your rent in advance. You’ll need to repay the loan. Get more information about budgeting loans.

If your benefits don't pay all your rent

If Housing Benefit 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 the Housing Executive to help pay your rent.

You need to claim Housing Benefit to get a DHP. You can ask the Housing Executive to find out how to make a claim.

The Housing Executive 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.

Using 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.

Getting a council tax reduction

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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