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How to find landlords and agents who accept benefits

Local housing allowance (LHA) rates went up in April 2024 after a 4 year freeze.

This should mean that there are more private tenancies in your budget if you get universal credit or housing benefit.

Check adverts on property websites, social media groups and local online forums.

Speak to your council

Some councils have lists of private landlords who rent to tenants claiming benefits.

The council must usually give you help to find somewhere to live if, for example:

  • you are sofa surfing

  • you get a section 21 notice

  • you're facing homelessness or eviction

This can include help to find a private tenancy that you can afford.

You could get a discretionary housing payment from the council to help with a deposit, rent in advance or rent payments.

Find out more about homeless help from the council.

Check the Help to Rent database

The homeless charity Crisis has a database with schemes that help people find and keep a private tenancy.

Most of the schemes are for single people who are homeless or facing homelessness. Some also give support once you have a private rented home.

Contact letting agents

Many private landlords use agents to rent out their properties.

The agent looks after viewings and tenancies for the landlord.  

Agents cannot charge you fees for things like viewings, checks or tenancy agreements.

'No DSS' policies

'No DSS' policies and adverts are unlawful discrimination.

You can complain if:

  • you see 'no DSS' adverts

  • an agent will not deal with you because you get benefits

Show you can afford the rent

Check your local housing allowance rate so you can search for properties you can afford.

LHA rates are used to work out universal credit or housing benefit amounts for private renters. You may get less than your LHA rate if you work.   

If you already pay rent to a private landlord and claim benefits, get bank statements and references to show a good rent payment history.   

Offer rent in advance

Some landlords do not want tenants on benefits because of how benefits are paid.

Universal credit and housing benefit are both paid after the rent is due.

Try to offer 2 months' rent in advance if you have it. You get some or all of this back through your benefits when you get them.

Do not set up a bank transfer until you're sure the tenancy is going ahead. Never pay cash and always ask for a receipt.

Protect yourself when handing over money.

Find a guarantor

You may be asked for a rent guarantor.

A guarantor agrees to pay your rent if you do not pay. They sign a legal agreement. A guarantor is usually one of your relatives.

The landlord or letting agent usually checks that your guarantor can afford to pay your rent.

A landlord or agent might say you do not need a guarantor if you pay rent in advance and you can show that you can afford the rent.

Credit checks

Landlords and agents can only do a 'soft search' of your credit record.

They need your permission and you cannot be charged for it.

They can only see information that is already public.

Credit searches do not show if you have missed rent payments in the past. But they usually show if you are bankrupt or have court orders (CCJs) that say you owe money.

Be honest if you do not think you'll pass a credit check. You could suggest something else.

You might not need a guarantor if you can afford to pay the rent and you have references or you can pay rent in advance.

Last updated: 15 April 2024

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