Private rented sector landlords usually ask for at least one month's rent in addition to a tenancy deposit. Find out if you can get help paying rent in advance.
Rent in advance before moving in
Before you start a tenancy most private landlords ask you for at least one month’s rent in advance, as well as a tenancy deposit.
Rent in advance is not the same as a tenancy deposit. A deposit is a guarantee for landlords in case you don't pay your rent or damage the property.
Rent in advance after you move in
You will usually be asked to pay your rent at the start of every rental period.
If you pay monthly, you pay a month’s rent at the start of every monthly period. If you pay weekly, you pay a week’s rent at the start of every weekly period.
At the end of the tenancy, your last payment of rent will be a month before the date your tenancy ends.
Always ask the landlord or letting agent for a receipt for any money you have paid and check when your rent payments are due.
Housing benefit and rent in advance
Housing benefit is paid in arrears at the end of every rental period. This is usually at the end of every two or four weeks, even if you have to pay your rent in advance every week or month.
This means you have to pay your rent before your housing benefit is paid to you.
If you claim help with your housing costs under universal credit this is paid in arrears every month.
Housing benefit or universal credit can't be paid before your tenancy starts. If your landlord asks for rent in advance before your tenancy starts, you'll need to find this money from somewhere else.
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.
Make a DHP claim
You can ask your council for a discretionary housing payment towards the rent in advance before you move in, if you already claim housing benefit in your current home.
When you make a claim for a discretionary housing payment, tell the council in detail why you are struggling to pay all your rent.
Find out more about discretionary housing payments.
Budgeting loans and advances
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.
You can make an application for a budgeting loan at your local Jobcentre Plus.
Claim forms are also available online from Gov.uk.
To qualify for a budgeting advance you must be claiming universal credit.
Find out more about budgeting advances under universal credit.
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 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 claiming welfare benefits
- be homeless or threatened with homelessness
Some schemes ask 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. You repay this amount 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.