If you don't have money for a tenancy deposit, check if there's a rent deposit, rent guarantee or bond scheme that can help.
How a rent deposit scheme works
Rent deposit schemes help people who can't afford a tenancy deposit to rent from a private landlord. Rent deposit schemes are usually run by a local council or housing association or sometimes by a charity.
Rent deposit schemes offer loans to be used as deposits. Usually, the scheme lends you the money in advance and you pay it back over a period of time from your wages or benefits.
If you pay a deposit to your landlord, your money must be protected with a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This applies if you have an assured shorthold tenancy. Most private tenants have this tenancy type.
You should get your deposit back as a lump sum at the end of your tenancy If there are no problems.
How a rent guarantee or bond scheme works
Bond schemes or rent guarantee schemes are usually run by a council, housing association or charity.
Instead of a cash deposit, the scheme-provider gives a written guarantee to your landlord to cover losses due to unpaid rent or damage.
Your landlord doesn't have to register the bond with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.
When you sign up to a guaranteed rent or bond scheme, you usually have to agree to repay the council any money it has to pay the landlord or letting agent.
When your tenancy ends, your landlord can ask the scheme-provider to pay for damage you caused or rent you didn't pay (often up to a maximum of one month's rent). If the rent deposit or bond scheme provider pays your landlord, you will be asked you to repay the money to the scheme.
Who can apply
Different schemes have different rules on who can apply.
Schemes run by local councils often provide help to families who are homeless and in priority need.
Schemes run by charities offer help to certain groups of people such as families with young children, single homeless people with alcohol or drug problems, ex-offenders or people with a history of rough sleeping.
Find a local scheme
Use the Crisis Private Rented Sector directory to search for a private rented sector (PRS) scheme in your area.
For information about local schemes you can also contact your local council.
Still need help?
Contact a housing adviser if you need further help.
Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444
Last updated 14 Oct 2014 | © Shelter