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How much it costs to rent

This advice applies to England

When you’ve found a property to rent, you'll have to make some payments before you move in.

You’II usually have to pay your first month’s rent in advance and a tenancy deposit. If you rent from a letting agent they might ask you to also pay fees and usually a holding deposit.

You might be able to move in sooner if you’re ready to pay upfront costs.

Ask about all payments before taking a property so you don’t have to deal with any unexpected costs.

Get a receipt from your landlord or letting agent when you pay any money - you'll need this in case there are any problems.

Paying rent in advance

You might be asked to pay rent upfront which is usually between 1 to 2 months' rent before you move in. This is called paying 'rent in advance'. The actual amount you’II pay will depend on your landlord and your written agreement.

By paying your rent in advance you'll always be paying rent for the month ahead.

You might be asked to pay several months’ rent in advance if there’s a problem with your credit check or references.

Read about checks that are made before you move into a property.

Paying a tenancy deposit  

Your 'tenancy deposit' will usually be the same amount as 1 to 2 months' rent.

You’II get your deposit back when you move out of the property - your landlord or letting agent can only keep some money, for example if you damage something or don't pay your rent.

Your landlord or letting agent has to put your deposit in a 'tenancy deposit scheme', this is done to keep it safe. They must give you all the written information about the the scheme. You can take action against your landlord if your tenancy deposit isn't protected.

Extra costs if you’re renting from a letting agent

You’II probably have extra payments to make before moving into a property if you rent from a letting agent - it’s important to budget for extra costs.

Fees you’II have to pay

You should expect to pay fees between £250 to £350, for example for your letting agent to do reference and credit checks. You might also be asked to pay extra fees if you renew your tenancy.

Ask about your letting agent’s fees before you take the property. Their fees must be displayed on their website and in their offices.  They have to give you details of their fees before you agree to rent.

It’s against the law for your letting agent to charge you for:

  • registering with them
  • giving information or lists of properties available for rent

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re illegally charged fees.


The holding deposit

You might also need to pay a ‘holding deposit’ while your letting agent checks your references - this is usually 1 to 2 weeks’ rent. Paying a holding deposit means your letting agent can’t rent the property to anyone else.

Once you move in, your holding deposit will usually be taken off your tenancy deposit or rent in advance.

Make sure your landlord gives you details of your holding deposit in writing, including:

  • how much you paid
  • what will happen to the money if you don’t end up moving in, for example if you or your landlord change your mind

Don't pay a holding deposit or sign anything unless you're sure you want the property - you might not get the money back if you change your mind.

John is moving into a 1-bedroom flat, found using a local letting agent. His rent will be £120 a week. He’ll also need to pay:

  • letting agent fees of £350

  • a tenancy deposit of £720 - this is the same as 6 weeks’ rent

  • 4 weeks’ rent in advance which comes to £480

John will also need to pay a holding deposit of £120 - which will go towards the cost of his tenancy deposit or rent in advance.

In total John will pay around £1,430 before he moves in.

Help paying rent costs

If you’re on benefits or a low income you might be able to get help with the cost of renting. For example help to pay your rent in advance or your tenancy deposit.

Negotiating with your landlord or letting agent  

It’s worth trying to negotiate with your landlord or letting agent when you find a property - this can save you some money.  

You can negotiate to get:

  • cheaper rent
  • agents’ fees reduced
  • the length of your tenancy and other terms changed, for example you can ask if the rent can include any bills

You should remember when negotiating that there’s a risk that the property could be offered to someone else.

You should have a plan and think about your chances of getting what you want. For example, if you’re offered a fixed-term tenancy for 6 months and you need longer you can negotiate to get a longer period.

Get what you agree in writing - you might need to refer back to what was said if there are problems.

Be careful making payments

You should never make payments if you haven’t seen the property.

Make sure you get your landlord’s or letting agent’s name and contact details before you pay any money. They have to give you their details if you ask for them.

If someone else looks after the property for your landlord, for example a family member, they still have to give you the landlord's details.

Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if your landlord refuses to give their details or if your letting agent won’t give you a landlord's details.

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