Costs of private renting

You'll need to budget for upfront costs before you move in and regular payments such as rent, council tax and utility bills.


Rent is your biggest housing cost each month. Rent levels vary depending on where you live.

Rent is almost always paid in advance, usually at the beginning of the month to cover the month ahead. Your tenancy agreement will say when rent is due.

For help with paying your rent, you can claim housing benefit. In some areas you may have to claim universal credit instead.

For many properties, these benefits won't cover your whole rent. You'll have to make up any shortfall yourself.

Tenancy deposit

Private landlords and letting agents usually ask you to pay a tenancy deposit before you move in. 

A tenancy deposit is your money and you should get it back at the end of your tenancy. Your landlord can make reasonable deductions from your deposit to cover unpaid rent and any damage.

Your landlord must protect your deposit with a tenancy deposit protection scheme if you're an assured shorthold tenant.

Check if a rent deposit or bond scheme can help if you don't have enough money for the deposit.

Rent in advance

You are usually asked to pay some rent in advance before you move in. This could be one month's rent or more.

You can apply for a budgeting loan to help with paying rent in advance if you've been claiming income support or income based job seeker's allowance for 6 months or more.

If you claim universal credit, you can apply for a budgeting advance.

You could get a discretionary housing payment to help with a tenancy deposit or rent in advance if you get housing benefit or universal credit where you live now

Letting agency fees

Most fees for tenants are banned. You can't be asked to pay for things like credit checks or references when agreeing a new tenancy.

Moving costs

Budget for moving costs such as van hire or a removal firm if you need help with moving. You may need to buy materials such as boxes and tape for packing everything.

If you're moving into an unfurnished place, you may need to budget for furniture and blinds or curtains.

Council tax

Most people who rent a flat or house have to pay council tax direct to the council. The amount of council tax you pay depends on your council and the banding of your property.

Contact your local council to find out more about your council tax.

When you find a property to rent, ask the landlord or letting agent how much the council tax is.

You can apply for a reduction in your council tax if you live alone, are a pensioner, claim benefits or have a low income.

Households made up only of full-time students are exempt from council tax.

Find out more from Which? about getting your council tax reduced.

Utility costs and household bills

As well as the rent and council tax, you need enough money to pay for utilities and household bills.

Expect to pay for gas, electricity, water, a TV licence, telephone and broadband.

You can usually choose to pay each month, quarterly or yearly. Shop around for deals to reduce your costs.

Some tenants also have to pay service charges for the cleaning of communal areas or gardening.

Check your tenancy agreement for more information on service charges.

Last updated 03 Feb 2017 | © Shelter

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