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Help with paying a deposit

This content applies to England

Options available to a person who is having difficulties raising a deposit to secure rented accommodation.

Deposits can be difficult for people to afford, especially when they are having to pay for rent in advance and moving expenses too. There are some options for people who are having trouble affording a deposit.

Landlords of assured shorthold tenants cannot accept a deposit that consists of any property other than money.[1]

Rent deposit guarantee schemes

These schemes are run by local authorities or voluntary agencies. Most of them do not offer a cash deposit to landlords, but offer instead a paper bond agreeing to pay the landlord in respect of any damages or unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy. As no property changes hands, the landlord does not need to protect the deposit.

Discretionary housing payments

A local authority can award a discretionary housing payment for a rent deposit (or rent in advance) for a property that the claimant has not yet moved into but only if s/he is already entitled to housing benefit for their present home.[2] For more information see the page on Discretionary housing payments.

Social services

People with children may be able to get financial assistance under the Children Act 1989 from social services to help them to pay a deposit.[3]

Paying a deposit over time

Some landlords may accept payment of a deposit over time. For example, if a tenant signs a 12-month fixed-term agreement, the landlord may allow a tenant to pay the deposit in instalments over the first six months of the tenancy. However, the requirement for deposits to be protected from 6 April 2007 may make this arrangement more complicated and less attractive to landlords.

[1] s.213(7) Housing Act 2004.

[2] paras 320-330, Discretionary Housing Payments: Good practice Guide, DWP, March 2011.

[3] Under s.17 Children Act 1989.

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