Options if you cannot afford a deposit or rent in advance

You could:

  • use a local rent deposit scheme

  • apply for a discretionary housing payment

  • get a budgeting advance or budgeting loan

A discretionary housing payment is a better option than a budgeting advance. This is because you do not have to pay it back.

Zero deposit companies

A landlord or agent might suggest you use a 'zero deposit' company. This is sometimes called deposit replacement insurance. Agents often get commission from the company.

You do not pay a tenancy deposit. But there are other costs and, unlike a deposit, the money you pay is not refundable at the end of the tenancy.

You cannot be forced to use a zero deposit company. It can only be offered as an alternative to paying a tenancy deposit.

Find out more about zero deposit companies.

Local rent deposit schemes

Your council may have a rent deposit, bond or guarantee scheme.

They can also tell you about other local schemes run by charities.

These schemes can help you with either:

  • cash to help with a deposit and rent in advance

  • a written guarantee that the scheme will cover unpaid rent or damage

Some schemes offer grants where you do not pay the money back. Others offer interest free loans that you pay back in instalments.

You may have to pay the scheme back if a deposit they pay on your behalf is not refunded at the end of the tenancy. For example, because of unpaid rent or damage.

Most schemes are for people facing homelessness or with an urgent need to move.

Ask your council for help if you're facing homelessness within 8 weeks

Help to Rent database

The charity Crisis have an online database of private renting schemes across the UK.

Most schemes on the database help single people who are homeless or about to lose their home. Some also provide support once you've moved into a private tenancy.

Search for a scheme on the Crisis Help to Rent database

Discretionary housing payments (DHPs)

Your council can give you discretionary housing payments if you get:

  • housing benefit

  • universal credit housing element

Discretionary housing payments can be used to pay for a tenancy deposit, rent in advance, removal costs and rent that is not already covered by your benefits.

The council only has a limited budget for DHPs. You will not always get them or you might get less than you apply for.

DHPs might be paid direct to your new landlord.

How to apply for a DHP

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Avoid payday loans

Payday loans are expensive and usually make money problems worse.

Look for a grant or an interest free loan if you need a lump sum to pay for a deposit, rent in advance or removal costs.

Search for a grant

Use the Turn2Us grant search to find a grant from a charity or trade union.

Find out about other emergency grants, loans and money help.

Budgeting advances

A budgeting advance is an interest free loan from the DWP.

You can only get a budgeting advance if you're on universal credit.

You must have claimed universal credit or another low income benefit for at least 6 months.

You could use a budgeting advance for a deposit, rent in advance and removal costs.

Apply for a budgeting advance on the Universal Credit helpline 0800 3285644

Budgeting loans

You could get a budgeting loan instead if you get one of the following benefits:

  • pension credit

  • income support

  • income based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)

  • income related employment and support allowance (ESA)

A budgeting loan cannot be used for a tenancy deposit.

But it can be used for rent in advance and removal costs.

Paying back a budgeting advance or loan

Although DWP loans are interest free they can still be hard to pay back on a low income.

You have less money to live on each month until the advance or loan is paid back.

You usually have to pay the DWP back within:

  • 1 year if you get universal credit

  • 2 years if you get one of the other benefits listed

Find out what to do if you're struggling with deductions from your universal credit.

Last updated: 10 July 2022

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