Rent in advance
Private landlords often ask for one month’s rent to be paid in advance at the start of a tenancy. This covers your first month’s rent.
You will often also be asked to pay a tenancy deposit.
When should I pay rent in advance?
Many landlords will ask for the first period’s rent to be paid before you move in. This is known as ‘rent in advance’. Always ask the landlord (or agency) for a receipt to show the amount you have paid, and check when the next rent payment is due.
If rent is to be paid weekly, your landlord or agent should provide you with a rent book.
What if I’m claiming housing benefit?
You might be able to claim housing benefit or universal credit (housing costs) to help pay your rent but payment can’t be made before your tenancy starts. If your landlord asks for rent in advance before your tenancy starts, you’ll need to find this money from somewhere else otherwise you will be behind with your rent from the start. There may also be a delay while your claim is assessed.
If you have made a new claim for housing benefit and you have given the council all the information it needs you can ask for a payment on account after 14 days. This is likely to be less than the rent you owe but your landlord may be more likely to wait if s/he can see that you are doing everything you can to get the claim processed quickly.
If you are receiving housing benefit, you could make a claim for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) for help with rent in advance. It is up to each council to decide if they should give you a DHP and you are only likely to be awarded one if you can show that you cannot afford the rent in advance yourself. The Council will expect you to give them enough information about your financial circumstances so that they can assess whether they should help you.
Budgeting loans to help with rent in advance
If you can’t afford to pay rent in advance and you are on certain benefits you may be able to claim a budgeting loan from the social fund to help you cover the cost. If you get a budgeting loan you will have to pay it back but the loan is interest free so you only have to pay back what you borrow.
Your chances of getting a loan and how much you might get will depend on your personal circumstances. You won’t get a loan if you will not be able to repay it. If you have already borrowed from the social fund and haven’t paid back what you borrowed last time, it may affect what you can get now.
Budgeting advance to help with rent in advance
If you have been receiving universal credit for 6 months or more you might be able to get a budgeting advance to help you cover your rent in advance.
A budgeting advance is an interest-free loan for people who are in receipt of universal credit to help with one-off or unforeseen expenses. You repay it through deductions from your monthly universal credit payments.
To apply for a budgeting advance contact your work coach at Jobcentre Plus. For more information on budgeting advances see the citizen’s advice website.