Help with the extra costs of renting

You can scrape the money together for rent, but can you afford all the other costs? We explain estate agent fees, holding deposits, rent in advance and getting a guarantor.

boy looking out window

Will the letting agent charge me for looking out the window?

Do I have to pay estate agent fees?

Estate agents don’t charge you for viewing somewhere, but if you go through them to rent a place you’ll have to pay an ‘admin’ fee. This covers drawing up the contract, doing credit checks and getting your references, and will probably set you back around £350. Ouch.

Ask how much the letting fees will be before you rent through an agent. If you think they’re too much you can try to negotiate.

What is a tenancy deposit?

Your deposit is used to cover any damage you may cause while living there. You should get it back when you leave… unless you’ve spilled red wine all over the carpet and snapped the bed in two. Deposits can be pretty complicated, so we have a whole article about them here.

What is a holding deposit?

You pay a holding deposit before you sign your tenancy agreement as a guarantee you’re definitely taking the house or flat.

You should get the holding deposit back once all the contracts are signed — or it will be included as part of your tenancy deposit. Ask the landlord or letting agent to give you written confirmation they received it, and a receipt.

If you change your mind and don’t move in you won’t get the holding deposit back. But if it’s the landlord who changes their mind, then you will get it back.

Can I get help paying one month’s rent in advance?

Landlords normally ask for at least one month’s rent in advance. If you’re on benefits you can get a budgeting loan to help with this; simply fill in this form and send it to your nearest Jobcentre. Money will be taken out of your benefits each month for two years to pay it back.

Some councils, charities and housing associations run other schemes to help people on a low income pay their first month’s rent. Ask your local council for more information.

What does a guarantor do?

A guarantor is legally responsible for covering your rent if you’re unable to pay it.

Not everyone needs to find a guarantor. But you’ll almost definitely need one if you’re a student, or if you can’t prove you earn enough money to pay your rent.

Who can I get to be my guarantor?

It’s easiest to get a parent or someone you know to be your guarantor. If that’s not an option for you, try a ‘guarantee rent scheme’ or a ‘bond scheme’. These are run by local charities or the council. They agree to cover any rent you can’t pay or any damage you cause – but you have to pay them back instead of your landlord.

To find your nearest scheme, use this search box on the Crisis website.

Watch this video for more information on renting your own place:

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 20-Oct-2015