Rent deposit and guarantee schemes

If you want to move into rented accommodation but are having trouble raising the money for a deposit, rent deposit or guarantee schemes can help you.

What is a rent deposit or guarantee scheme?

These schemes aim to help people in housing need access accommodation in the private rented sector. Instead of you having to pay a deposit and/or rent in advance, the scheme will provide a financial guarantee to your landlord to cover the cost for you.

Who asks for a deposit?

Most private landlords or letting agents ask for a deposit. See the page about deposits for more information.

How do the schemes work?

Different schemes work in different ways:

Finding suitable accommodation

  • Some schemes will find suitable accommodation for you, while others will ask you to find your own property and then negotiate with the landlord on your behalf. In this case, you may even get the deposit or rent reduced.
  • Some schemes will check the property over for you, to make sure it's safe and well maintained.
  • The deposit and sometimes any advance rent will then be guaranteed for you by the scheme.

Repayment of the rent and deposit

  • Some schemes will ask you to repay the deposit and advance rent in instalments over a period of time. When you move out, the landlord will refund the deposit to you, provided you haven't damaged the property or left any unpaid rent or bills.
  • Other schemes won't ask you to repay the deposit, so when you move out, the deposit is returned to the scheme. However, if the landlord doesn't refund the full deposit because you have damaged the property or left unpaid rent or bills, you will have to pay the scheme back.

Some schemes also offer support in other areas, for example advisers can help you to claim benefits, develop budgeting skills and find furniture for your new home.

Who can apply?

This differs from scheme to scheme, but usually rent deposit schemes are aimed at people who are:

Who runs rent deposit schemes?

  • Local councils
  • Housing associations
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Churches
  • Community groups

How do I apply?

To see if there's a rent deposit scheme operating near you, you can: 

The important points

  • If you rent privately your landlord or letting agent will probably ask you for a deposit.
  • Rent deposit schemes can help you by guaranteeing rent or deposit or making it so you pay your deposit over a period of time, they vary in how they work.
  • Usually rent deposit schemes have criteria for who they can help.
  • Rent deposit schemes are run by local councils, housing associations, voluntary organisations, churches and community groups.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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