Housing payment breakdown
Your one-stop shop to deposits, rent and protecting yourself.
The amount of rent landlords charge depends largely on location, situation, size and type of property. But whereas it makes sense for them to consider these market factors if they want to succeed in getting tenants for their home, private landlords can lawfully ask for any amount in rent they want.
Landlords will always ask for rent in advance, so if you move in on 1 July, you pay a months' rent on 1 July, too, and then on the first day of every month thereafter.
If you're on Income Support, you may be able to get money from the social fund to pay for rent in advance. You may also be able to get help from a rent deposit scheme if there's one operating in your area.
A deposit is a sum of money that a landlord (or an agent acting on behalf of a landlord) will ask for at the beginning of the tenancy. This money is security against non-payment of rent, damage to property or removal of furniture. It usually amounts to between a month and six weeks' rent. Deposits are returnable when you leave, but you will not get back all of your deposit if your landlord has to make deductions.
However, since April 2007, the law has stated that deductions made from your deposit won't be entirely at the landlords' discretion. Each private landlord must register with and surrender the deposit they take from you into a government-authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme, rather than hold it in their own bank account.
"Never hand over any money for a deposit or a first months' rent in advance without getting a receipt for it."
Then, if your landlord withholds the whole - or even part - of your deposit without good reason, you can report them to the scheme. Your complaint will then be dealt with by a special dispute service, which is unbiased.
Bear in mind that this protection works both ways. Some tenants, for example, withhold their last month's rent (which is sometimes equivalent to the deposit amount), especially if they know their landlord has not paid back deposits of other tenants and there's no damage to pay for.
Legally, you're not supposed to do this and your landlord could take court action to recover the rent arrears. You would then have to ask the court for your landlord to return your deposit.
Never hand over any money for a deposit or for a for a first months' rent in advance to your landlord or a lettings agent without getting a receipt for it. The receipt should say what the money is for and should include the date, the address of the property, the name/signature of the landlord (or agent), and the amount received.
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