Costs of private renting

Find out what you need to budget for in a private tenancy and extra financial help you could get if you're on a low income.

Rent

Rent is your main housing cost each month. 

The cost of rent varies depending on where you live.

You can usually claim universal credit to help with rent if you're on a low income unless you're already getting housing benefit.

Benefits are paid in arrears and won't usually cover your full rent. You should still pay your full rent on the date it is due unless your landlord agrees to wait.

Rent in advance

Rent is usually paid in advance, often on the same date each month to cover the next calendar month. Your tenancy agreement will say when your rent is due.

You are usually asked to pay at least 1 month's rent in advance before you move in. 

You can apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) to help with rent in advance on a new tenancy. You must get housing benefit or the universal credit housing element where you live now. DHPs don't need to be repaid.

If you're refused a DHP or don't qualify for one and you've been claiming benefits for at least 6 months, you can apply for a:

These are interest free loans and must be paid back through deductions from your future benefit payments.

Tenancy deposit

Most landlords and agents ask for a tenancy deposit before you move in. 

From 1 June 2019, the maximum tenancy deposit  is equal to 5 weeks' rent.

Check if a rent deposit or bond scheme can help if you can't afford the deposit.

If you get housing benefit or the universal credit housing element where you live now, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) to help with a deposit for a new tenancy.

Holding deposit

Some landlords and agents ask for a holding deposit to reserve a property.

From 1 June 2019, the maximum holding deposit is equal to 1 week's rent.

Only pay a holding deposit if you're serious about taking on the tenancy. 

You might not get the money back if you decide not to go ahead. In most cases, you should get it back if the landlord decides not to rent to you.  

Other fees and charges

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

If you need help with the costs of moving and you've been claiming benefits for at least 6 months, you can apply for a:  

These are interest free loans and must be paid back through deductions from your future benefit payments.

The Reuse Network has details of schemes which help with free or cheap furniture, fridges and other items.

Council tax

Ask how much the council tax is before you sign your tenancy agreement.

Most tenants have to pay council tax direct to the council. You can usually arrange to pay in monthly instalments.

The amount you have to pay depends on:

  • who lives in your home
  • the size of your home and which band it is in

You can get a single person discount of 25% if you're the only adult living in your home.

If you're on a low income, you can apply for a council tax reduction on GOV.UK.

Shared accommodation

Your landlord is usually responsible for the council tax bill if everyone living there has their own agreement for their own room or bedsit. 

The property must be classed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) for council tax purposes. This is different to being classed as an HMO for licensing purposes.

If you have a joint tenancy for the whole property then you will be jointly liable for the council tax bill with the other tenants.

The property is exempt from council tax if everyone who lives there is a full time student.

Utilities and household bills

You may have to pay for gas, electricity, water, a TV licence, telephone and broadband.  

These costs are usually the tenant's responsibility unless your tenancy agreement states that they are included in your rent. 

Take meter readings on the day you move in and contact the suppliers.

You will have a contract with the gas and electricity suppliers from the date your tenancy starts even if they don't have your name.

You can shop around for a better deal if you're unhappy with the tariff.

Find out how to deal with energy suppliers when you move from Citizens Advice


Last updated 31 Jul 2019 | © Shelter

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