Private rented sector landlords will 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.
So, 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 will be 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 rent arrears or damage to the property.
When you take on a new private tenancy, you will usually need to budget for both rent in advance and a tenancy deposit.
Remember to always ask the landlord (or letting agency) 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 are claiming housing benefit (or local housing allowance), it will be paid four weeks in arrears. It can't be paid to you in advance of you starting your tenancy, so if your landlord asks for rent in advance, you will need to find this money from somewhere else.
Get advice if there is a delay in you getting your housing benefit.
Use our directory to find an adviser in your area.
Budgeting loans to help with paying for rent in advance
If you can't afford to pay rent in advance, you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan to help pay rent in advance.
To qualify for a budgeting loan, you or your partner must have been in receipt of income support or income based jobseeker's allowance for at least 26 weeks.
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 will have different rules, but to be eligible you should have a local connection and be on a low income or in receipt of welfare benefits, or be homeless or threatened with homelessness. Some schemes will also need you to show that you will be able to repay a loan and be 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 will be repaid from this. Your local council should be able to provide information on schemes in your area.
Other renting fees
Some landlords and letting agents may also 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.
For more information, see our page on letting agencies fees and charges.
Read Shelter's guide Finding a place to live for more information on finding a home
Last updated: 1 January 2014