Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Options if you cannot afford a deposit or rent in advance

You could:

  • apply for a discretionary housing payment

  • find a local rent deposit scheme

  • ask someone to be a rent guarantor

  • 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.

A landlord or letting agent might suggest you use a zero deposit company.

You do not pay a tenancy deposit but there are other costs. You do not get your money back at the end of the tenancy.

Discretionary housing payments (DHPs)

Your council could give you a DHP if you need help with:

  • a deposit or rent in advance

  • the costs of moving home

  • rent that is not already covered by benefits

To get a DHP, you need to get either:

  • housing benefit

  • universal credit housing element

Read more about discretionary housing payments.

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Local rent deposit schemes

Your council might have a rent deposit, bond or guarantee scheme to help with a deposit.

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

These schemes could:

  • give you money to help with a deposit and rent in advance

  • guarantee in writing to pay for the same things as a deposit at the end of the tenancy

Some schemes give grants you do not have to pay back. Others have interest free loans that you pay back in small amounts over time.

You may have to pay the scheme back if your landlord keeps the deposit.

Your landlord might keep the money if you:

  • do not pay all the rent

  • cause damage to the property

Most schemes are for people who are homeless or need to move urgently.

Ask your council for homeless help if you could be homeless in the next 8 weeks.

Help to Rent database

The charity Crisis has a database of private renting schemes across the UK.

Most schemes help single people who are homeless or about to lose their home. Some also support you when you move into a private tenancy.

Search for schemes on the Help to Rent database.

Search for a grant

A grant is money you do not have to pay back. Charities or trade unions might offer grants.

Use the Turn2Us grants search to find money you could apply for.

Rent guarantors

Some landlords or agents will accept a guarantor instead of a deposit or rent in advance.

A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you do not pay it. This is usually a relative or close friend. They have to sign a legal agreement with the landlord.

Find out more about rent guarantors.

Budgeting advances and loans

These are loans from the DWP. They are interest free.

You pay them back through deductions from your benefits

You could get a budgeting advance if you get universal credit (UC). You can use it for a deposit, rent in advance or removal costs.

You could get a budgeting loan if you get one of these benefits:

  • pension credit

  • income support

  • income based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)

  • income related employment and support allowance (ESA)

You can use a budgeting loan for rent in advance and removal costs, but not a deposit.

Find out how to apply for a budgeting advance or loan.

Avoid payday loans

Payday loans are expensive. They usually make your 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.

Find out about emergency grants and money help.

Last updated: 7 May 2024

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help