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 payments before you move in
Before you start a tenancy most private landlords ask you to pay at least one month’s rent in advance. This covers your first rent payment.
You'll usually also be asked to pay a tenancy deposit. A deposit is a guarantee for landlords in case you don't pay your rent or damage the property.
Rent payments 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 week or 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.
Rent shortfalls before housing benefit is paid
You can claim housing benefit or universal credit to help pay the rent. Payment can't be made 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.
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.
Help with housing costs under universal credit is paid in arrears every month.
Get advice if there is a delay in getting your housing benefit.
Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser
Budgeting loans to help pay for rent in advance
You may be able to apply for a budgeting loan or budgeting advance 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.
You can apply online or download a claim form at Gov.uk – budgeting loans.
To qualify for a budgeting advance you must be claiming universal credit.
Other loan schemes to help pay for rent in advance
Some councils, charities and 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 want 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 could be repaid from this.
Contact your local council to ask for information about schemes in your area.
Make a DHP claim for rent in advance
If you already claim housing benefit or universal credit in your current home, you can ask your council for a discretionary housing payment towards the rent in advance before you move in.
When you make a claim for a discretionary housing payment, tell the council in detail why you are struggling to pay all your rent.
Last updated 03 Feb 2017 | © Shelter
Still need help?
If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help