Tenant's Toolkit

Deposit and advance rent

Whichever way you find a property, you will probably have to pay a deposit and at least one month’s rent in advance. This covers your first rent payment.

You'll usually also be asked to pay a tenancy deposit. A deposit is a guarantee for landlords in case you don't pay your rent or damage the property.

Making sure your deposit is protected

Most private landlords require at least 4 weeks rent as a deposit and the first month's rent in advance.

In an assured shorthold tenancy, deposits are required by law to be protected.

There are three deposit protection schemes so if you cannot find it with Tenancy Deposit Schemes, click here to use the Shelter Deposit Checker.

If your landlord hasn't protected your deposit please seek legal advice. Landlords who don't protect a deposits are subject to a pay compensation of between one and three times the deposit as well as returning the deposit in full

Other types of tenancy do exist, so check the paperwork if you're not sure. If you are a lodger (living with the landlord and renting a room) it is not an AST and the deposit doesn't need to be protected.

Getting financial assistance

It can be difficult finding the money to pay both the deposit and a month's rent in advance. If you are on a low income, you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan or crisis loan to help with the deposit or rent in advance.

If you are on the Housing Register or being assessed by the Options and Assessment team, you may be able to receive assistance to secure private rented housing. Please speak to your assigned Housing Officer or contact the Housing Needs helpline on 020 8313 4098.

When tenancy deposit protection doesn't apply

If you aren't an assured shorthold tenant, your landlord doesn't have to protect your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.

You probably won't be an assured shorthold tenant if you:

  • are a lodger or live in the same house as your landlord
  • live in a student halls of residence
  • have an assured tenancy or regulated tenancy

This means that if your landlord doesn't return your deposit, the only way to get your money back is to take your landlord to court.

You can visit Shelter's page for a list of steps to take or use their directory to find a housing adviser to assist you.