Private rented sector landlords often ask for one month's rent in addition to a tenancy deposit. Find out how and where to get help paying rent in advance.
What is rent in advance?
In most private rented tenancies rent is paid at the start of the month, for the coming month. This is known as rent in advance.
Before taking up a new tenancy, you pay the rent for the first month upfront. At the end of the tenancy, your last payment of rent is a month before the date your tenancy ends.
Rent in advance is not the same as a tenancy deposit, which landlords ask for as a guarantee against you not paying your rent or damaging the property.
When you take on a new private tenancy, you usually need to budget for both rent in advance and a tenancy deposit.
Always ask the landlord (or letting agent) for a receipt for any money you have paid and check when your rent payments are due.
Use Shelter's budget calculator to check if you can afford to take on a new tenancy
Housing benefit and rent in advance
If you claim housing benefit (or local housing allowance), it is paid four weeks in arrears. It can't be paid before your tenancy starts. Some landlords ask for rent in advance, so you'll need to find this money from somewhere else.
You can ask your council for a discretionary housing payment towards the rent in advance if you already claim housing benefit.
Get advice if there is a delay in getting your housing benefit.
Use Shelter's directory to find a housing or welfare rights adviser in your area.
Budgeting loans to help with paying for rent in advance
You may be able to apply for a budgeting loan to help if you can't afford to pay rent in advance.
To qualify for a budgeting loan, you or your partner must have been receiving income support or income based jobseeker's allowance for at least 26 weeks.
Claim forms are also available online from Gov.uk.
Other loan schemes to help pay for rent in advance
Some councils, charities and local housing associations operate loan schemes to help tenants cover the cost of paying a landlord their first month's rent.
Different schemes have different rules. To be eligible you should:
- have a local connection
- be on a low income or in receipt of welfare benefits
- be homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Some schemes also need you to show that you can repay a loan and are able to sustain a tenancy.
These schemes usually offer an interest free loan that is paid directly to the landlord. The tenant must then pay this amount back at an agreed rate. If you are eligible for housing benefit, the money is repaid from this.
Other renting fees
Some landlords and letting agents charge you a fee for checking your references and other administration tasks such as drafting your tenancy agreement. They can only charge you these fees once your tenancy has been agreed.
It is illegal for agencies to charge for looking for a property for you.