Costs of private renting

If you're thinking about renting a private house or flat, make sure you can afford it. You'll have to pay some costs before you move in and also budget for regular ongoing payments such as rent, council tax and utility bills.

1  Rent

Rent will be your biggest housing cost each month, so it's important to work out what you can afford. Look for properties in the area where you want to live and check what the average rent is.

When the rent is due depends on your tenancy agreement. Rent is almost always paid in advance, often at the beginning of the month to cover the month ahead.

Calculate how much it costs to start renting

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You will have to pay an estimated upfront

  • Letting agent fees
    National average fees in England, Shelter research
  • Rent in advance
    Your first month’s rent is paid upfront
  • Tenancy deposit
    6 weeks’ rent, or sometimes one month’s rent

Results are approximate and for guidance only.
Get advice on how to handle the upfront costs of renting

2 Tenancy deposit

Private landlords and letting agents usually ask you to pay a tenancy deposit before you move in. Deposits vary but are usually equal to one or two months' rent. This can be a large amount. Make sure you have this money available in advance.

You should get this money back at the end of your tenancy, as long as you haven't caused any damage or missed any rent payments. Landlords of assured shorthold tenants must put tenancy deposits in a tenancy deposit protection scheme.

If you don't have enough money for the deposit, you might be able to find a rent deposit or bond scheme to help (check first that your landlord will accept this). Some schemes may also help you find a landlord who will rent to you if you claim housing benefit.

3  Rent in advance

As well as paying a deposit, tenants are usually asked to pay some rent in advance. This could be one month's worth,but may be more. For example, if you can't prove you can afford the rent, the landlord could ask for six months' rent or more.

If you claim benefits, you may be able to get a budgeting loan for help with paying rent in advance.

4  Letting or estate agency fees

If you use a letting agency to find and rent a home, you are usually charged a fee that covers things such as credit checks, references and administration. It is illegal for letting agents to charge you just to view a property.

Letting agents must tell you about their fees and charges. The amount varies between agencies, so find out exactly what they cover and try to negotiate before handing over any money.

5  Council tax

Most people who rent have to pay council tax direct to the council, though it can be included in the rent you pay to your landlord. The amount you pay depends on your council and the banding of your property. Contact your local council to find out how your council tax is worked out and how to pay it.

When you find a property to rent, ask the landlord or letting agent how much the council tax is for the property.

You may get a reduction in your council tax if you live alone, are a pensioner, claim benefits or have a low income. Households made up only of full-time students are exempt from council tax.

6  Service charges

Check if you have to pay a service charge for your home. Service charges are often charged in blocks of flats. The money goes towards things such as heating the communal areas and repairing the outside of the property.

7 Household bills

As well as the rent and council tax, you'll need enough money to pay household bills. Expect to pay for gas, electricity, water, a TV licence, telephone and broadband.

You can usually choose to pay each month, quarterly (every three months) or yearly. Shop around for deals to reduce your costs. If you move into a shared house, these bills are usually shared between the people living there.

8  Moving costs

if you have a lot of things to transport to a new house, you might need to hire a van or a removal firm to help. You may need to buy materials such as boxes and tape to pack everything up safely too.

If you're moving into an unfurnished place, you may also need to buy furniture and blinds or curtains.

9  Housing benefit

Housing benefit can help pay your rent, but in expensive areas it's unlikely to cover your whole rent. You may need to look for a place to rent in a less expensive area or for cheaper properties in your area

Some landlords won't rent to people who claim housing benefit.

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