Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Help to pay a deposit and first month's rent

A private landlord or letting agent can ask you for up to 2 months’ rent as a deposit.

If you cannot afford to pay a deposit, you could get help from a rent deposit scheme, a grant, or the council.

Rent deposit and guarantee schemes

There are schemes that can help you get a private tenancy if:

  • you're homeless or about to become homeless

  • you cannot afford to pay a deposit or first month's rent up front

These are sometimes called rent deposit schemes or rent guarantee schemes.

There are different schemes in different areas. Each scheme has its own rules about who is eligible.

Find a rent deposit scheme on the Crisis website

Some schemes can also help you:

  • find somewhere to rent

  • check that the home is safe for you

  • find furniture

  • apply for benefits

  • budget costs for your new home

Not all schemes will offer all of this, so check what the scheme provider can offer.

Check if you need to pay the money back

Some deposit schemes will negotiate with the landlord on your behalf to get a lower rent and deposit. Others will pay the landlord the money and agree on a payment plan for you to pay them back.

In some cases, if the scheme pays your deposit they'll get it back from the landlord when you move out. This means you do not have to pay the scheme back, unless the deposit needs to be used for damage you've caused.

Other help you could get

If you're not eligible for a rent deposit scheme, you could get other money help:

To pay for household items, clothing and moving costs, apply for a Community Care Grant.

Contact the council if you cannot find a place to live. Ask them for a housing options interview. They can help you look at your options and apply for homes.

If you're homeless or about to become homeless, the council must help you. Check our advice on making a homeless application.

Last updated: 6 May 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England