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 is your biggest housing cost each month, It's important to work out what you can afford.

Rent levels vary depending on the area you want to live in.

When the rent is due depends on your tenancy agreement. Rent is almost always paid in advance, usually 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.

It is your money and you should get this back at the end of your tenancy. Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from your deposit to cover unpaid rent and any damage you cause.

If you're an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord must protect your tenancy deposit with 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 can also help you find a landlord to you if you claim housing benefit or universal credit.

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 or more.

If you claim benefits, you may be able to get a budgeting loan or budgeting advance to 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 set out their fees and charges on their websites and in their offices. Fees vary between agencies, so find out exactly what you'll be paying.

A landlord or letting agent must carry out a right to rent immigration check before you sign up to a private tenancy. A landlord or letting agent is allowed to charge you a fee for right to rent checks.

5 Council tax

Most people who rent a flat or house have to pay council tax direct to the council. The amount of council tax you pay depends on your council and the banding of your property.

Contact your local council to find out more about your council tax.

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

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.

Find out more from Which about getting your council tax reduced.

6 Service charges

Check if you have to pay a service charge for your home. Service charges are often charged in blocks of flats or if your house is on an estate.

Service charges pay for things such as heating and lighting communal areas and repairing the outside of the property.

7 Household bills

As well as the rent and council tax, you 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 or yearly. Shop around for deals to reduce your costs.

If you move into a shared house, bills are usually shared between the people living there.

Find out more about shared energy costs.

8 Moving costs

You might need to hire a van or a removal firm to help you move home.

You may need to buy materials such as boxes and tape for packing everything.

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

9 Help to pay the rent

Housing benefit or universal credit can help pay your rent.

In expensive areas these benefits probably won't 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 or universal credit.

Find out more about claiming housing benefit or universal credit.

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