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.
When you start 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. This is a guarantee for landlords in case you don't pay your rent or damage the property.
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
If you claim housing benefit, this is paid four weeks in arrears. It can't be paid before your tenancy starts.
If your landlord asks for rent in advance, you can't use housing benefit to pay for this. 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 if you already claim housing benefit.
When you make a claim for a discretionary housing payment, tell the council in detail why you are struggling to pay all your rent.
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.
You can make an application for a budgeting loan at your local Jobcentre Plus.
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 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.