If you want to rent privately but you don’t have money for a tenancy deposit, there may be rent deposit schemes, rent guarantee and bond schemes available in your area that can help.
Rent deposit schemes usually work by lending the tenant money for a tenancy deposit. Guaranteed rent schemes or bond schemes usually offer a guarantee to the landlord at the start of the tenancy, rather than a cash payment
How a rent deposit scheme works
Rent deposit schemes and bond schemes help people who could not otherwise afford a rent deposit to rent from a private landlord. Rent deposit schemes are usually run by a local council or housing association, or sometimes by a charity.
Rent deposit schemes offer loans to be used as deposits. Usually, the scheme-provider lends you the money in advance and you pay it back over a period of time from your wages or benefits. If there are no problems, you should get your deposit back as a lump sum at the end of your tenancy.
If you pay a deposit to your landlord, the money must be placed in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme.
How a guaranteed rent and bond scheme works
Bond schemes or rent guarantee schemes are usually run by an organisation such as a council, housing association or charity. Instead of a cash deposit, the scheme-provider gives a written guarantee to your landlord to cover the cost of rent arrears or any damage to the property. The organisation providing the scheme will have a fund of money to use if a landlord makes a claim.
When you sign up to a guaranteed rent or bond scheme, you will usually have agree to repay the council any money it has to pay the landlord and/or letting agent.
If there is a problem at the end of your tenancy, your landlord can ask the scheme-provider to pay for damage you've caused or rent you didn't pay. If this happens, the rent deposit or bond scheme provider will pay and then ask you to repay the money to the scheme.
Finding a local rent deposit, guaranteed rent or bond scheme
Use the Crisis Private Rented Sector directory to search for a private rented sector (PRS) scheme in your area.
If there are no schemes listed for your area, check locally for other schemes that may be available. Contact your local council or use our advice services directory to find an advice centre in your local area that can help.
Who can apply for help with a tenancy deposit?
Different schemes have different rules on who can apply. Schemes run by local councils often provide help to families who are homeless and in priority need.
Some schemes, often run by charities, offer help to certain groups of people, such as families with young children, single homeless people with alcohol or drug problems, ex-offenders, or people with a history of rough sleeping.
Check the rules for schemes in your area – ask the scheme-provider or your local council.
Read Shelter's guide Finding a place to live for more information on finding a home
Last updated: 1 January 2014