How to find landlords who accept benefits
No DSS policies are unlawful discrimination.
You may find landlords with affordable properties for people who claim benefits on:
Some landlords advertise on 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 if you get a section 21 notice or are facing homelessness.
This can include help to find an affordable private tenancy.
You could get a discretionary housing payment from the council to help with a deposit, rent in advance or rent payments.
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 acts on behalf of the landlord for viewings and tenancies.
Agents cannot charge fees for things like viewings, references, credit or affordability checks or immigration checks.
No DSS policies are bans on renting to tenants who claim universal credit or housing benefit.
No DSS policies and adverts are unlawful discrimination.
You can complain if you see these adverts or if an agent will not deal with you because you claim 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, offer bank statements and references to show a good rent payment history.
Find a guarantor
You may be asked to provide a guarantor for the tenancy.
Guarantors sign an agreement to cover costs if a tenant does not pay their rent or for damage.
They are usually relatives or close friends. They may need to pass a credit or affordability check.
You could persuade a landlord or agent that you do not need a guarantor if you can show you can afford the rent.
Offer rent in advance
Some landlords do not want to let to tenants who claim benefits because universal credit and housing benefit are paid in arrears.
You could offer rent in advance for the first 2 months of the tenancy. This should cover waiting time for a benefit application or change.
You usually get your benefit on the same day each month so you could set up a direct debit for future payments.
Don't arrange a bank transfer until you're sure the tenancy is going ahead. If you have to pay cash, always get a receipt.
DWP loans for rent in advance
You can apply for a DWP loan if you don't have enough for rent in advance.
The loans are interest free. There are limits on how much you can get. They are paid back through deductions from your benefit payments.
Find out how to apply for a:
Paying a deposit
Many landlords and agents ask for a tenancy deposit. It must be protected in a scheme.
You can't be asked to pay more than the equivalent of 5 weeks' rent as a deposit.
You should get it back at the end of the tenancy, unless the landlord deducts money for things like damage or rent arrears.
Deposit replacement insurance
Some landlords or agents use deposit replacement insurance. This is sometimes called a zero deposit option.
You pay a non refundable fee at the start of the tenancy, often equal to just a week's rent.
You have less to pay up front than you would with a normal deposit but you don't get the fee back. It could cost more if there are problems during the tenancy.
Landlords and agents must get your permission to run a credit check. You can't be charged for it.
Be honest if you don't think you'll pass a credit check.
You could suggest an alternative.
If you've shown the property is affordable and that you can provide references, a guarantor or rent in advance, there may be no need for a credit check.
Beware of online scams
Scammers advertise properties that don't exist or have been rented out. Then they charge a large up front fee to people looking for a home.
Some scams target benefit claimants or vulnerable people by sending emails or texts about universal credit or government loans.
There have been scams because of coronavirus.
Struggling to meet your costs?
Find out about:
Extra help if you claim universal credit
Utility bills and your rights
Emergency grants, loans and money help
Last updated: 4 May 2022