Most landlords and letting agencies will ask for at least one month’s rent in advance and a deposit which may be around the amount of 4-6 week’s rent.
If you are using a letting agency you will also probably have to pay agency fees. Letting agents must show the fees they charge clearly, on their websites and at their offices. For more information on agency fees, see here.
Rent Smart! –A letting agency may charge you a ‘holding’ deposit or fee to reserve the property for you. Do not pay a holding deposit unless you are sure you want the property. The agency will likely check your references and do a credit check or a guarantor check at this point. If you do not pass these checks the holding deposit may not be returned to you. If you pass all the checks the holding deposit should then contribute towards the final costs payable before the tenancy starts or refunded to you.
You can find out if you would pass a credit reference by taking a free 30 days trial with services such as Experian or Equifax, which you can cancel within the 30 days to avoid any future monthly charge.
If you are eligible for housing benefit and have an offer for a property you can apply for funding for rent in advance from Brighton and Hove City Council’s discretionary payments scheme. To apply for this, you must have a written offer for the tenancy, details of how much rent in advance is required, and a recent bank statement.
You can apply for housing benefit, report a change of circumstances, and find more information from Brighton and Hove City council here: www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-tax-and-benefits/housing-benefit-council-tax-reduction-and-discretionary-help.
The amount available through housing benefit is called the Local Housing Allowance. It is advisable to check the maximum you are entitled to before agreeing to a new tenancy.
All of the above add up to what can be a large up-front cost. You can use Shelter’s tool to find out the likely cost for you to start renting, here.
Your landlord must protect your deposit in a government-approved scheme within 30 days of receiving the deposit. They must also provide you with information about the deposit protection scheme they have used. If your deposit is not protected or you do not receive information about this from your landlord, seek advice as you may be able to take action against them to claim compensation. There is information about local advice agencies at the end of this section.
Rent Smart! – Read your tenancy agreement carefully as it is a contract you are signing which will contain clauses and agreements about your tenancy, the property, paying rent, resolving disputes and more. It is important you understand this and that the details are correct.
For more information on this, see Shelter’s webpage ‘Types of Renting Agreement.’
You may also find local removals services advertised on Gumtree and other listings sites. If you look online or speak to companies on the phone they will be able to provide you with a quote before you agree to the service.
For people struggling with some of the costs of moving home, Brighton and Hove City Council have a ‘Discretionary Payments for Removal Costs’ fund which may be able to help with removal costs.
To apply to this fund, you must be entitled to claim housing benefit and must have already secured your new tenancy. You will need proof of the new tenancy (such as an offer letter or tenancy agreement) as well as a recent bank statement. You will need to provide three quotes from van hire or removal companies to apply to this fund.
For people who do not have a bed or other essential items and are struggling to afford these, there are some funds that may be worth considering.
Brighton and Hove City Council have a ‘Local Discretionary Social Fund’ which may be able to help with essential items for your home, such as a bed, microwave or fridge.
This is a limited fund and you may wish to discuss this and other schemes with a local advice agency. Links to information on advice agencies are below.
The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) offer a Budgeting Loan which can be used to help pay for essential items. This is a loan and is paid back to the DWP through a deduction in your benefits.
You can get up to:
- £348 if you’re single
- £464 if you’re part of a couple
- £812 if you have children
To qualify for this loan you or your partner much have been claiming one of these benefits for at least 26 weeks:
- JSA (Jobseekers Allowance)
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance (income-based)
- Pension Credit
For more information about budgeting loans, visit the Government's guidance online or speak to a local advice agency.
There are also charity shops and local recycling charities that have low-cost furniture available. Brighton and Hove City Council provide a list of services in Brighton and Hove.
It is very important that an inventory is taken - this records the condition of the property at the time you move in. It is best to take photographs as part of taking an inventory of the property.
If the landlord or agent carries out an inventory before you move in it is best if you try to be there as well. If you can’t be there, make sure to go over the inventory they have taken before you move in to make sure it is correct and to sign off on it.
Fully check the property and any furnishing and fittings for any damage or wear and tear and make sure this is recorded in the inventory.
All of the documents below must be provided to you when you begin your tenancy, and if they are not this may have legal implications for your landlord and whether they can serve you notice legally. You may wish to seek advice if you are not provided with these documents.
- Gas Certificate: You must be provided with a Gas Safety Certificate before you move in. See here for more information.
- The ‘How to Rent’ guide.
- Deposit paperwork: As noted above, it is very important that your landlord provides you with the paperwork related to protecting your deposit. If a landlord does not do this, a tenant may be able to take action against them to claim compensation. For more information about this, see here.
- The Energy Performance Certificate: this is about energy usage in the property which will affect your energy bills and your landlord has to provide this document, unless your property is part of a House in Multiple Occupancy (you can check this with your landlord or agency). From April 2018 private rented priorities will need to achieve a minimum EPC band ‘E’ rating before they can be let (subject to exemptions).
Landlords must check that all people aged over 18 living in their property as their only or main home have the right to rent. They will need to make copies of your documents and return your original documents to you.
What your landlord must do
Your landlord (or letting agent) must:
- check your original documents to make sure you have the right to rent a property in England
- check the documents of any other adults living in the property
- make copies of your documents and keep them until you leave the property
- return your original documents to you once they’ve finished the check
Read the list of acceptable documents.
Your landlord must not discriminate against you, for example because of your nationality.
For more information see:
Make sure you take the meter readings on the day your tenancy begins so that you receive the correct bill for these utilities.
When you have moved in you will need to contact suppliers of water, gas, electricity and you may want to choose a telephone, internet and/or television provider.
Ask your landlord or agency who currently supplies the property. If you aren’t able to find out from them you can find contact numbers here: www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/who-supplies-my-electricity-and-gas
For gas and electricity, you are able to choose from a large range of suppliers. It is advisable to compare suppliers to find the most suitable and best deal for you.
Here are some comparison and energy switching websites:
Rent Smart! – If you think you are paying too much for your bills you can do a quick and easy comparison (and switch supplier) with www.myutilitygenius.co.uk.
Southern Water provides water to the Sussex area. Contact them to notify them you have moved into the property and to check how your water is paid for: www.southernwater.co.uk
You should also contact TV Licensing: www.tvlicensing.co.uk
Citizens Advice provides lots of information about paying your water bill and more, here: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/water/water-supply/
When you have moved in, contact the council to arrange paying your council tax.
Some people can apply for Council Tax Reduction, for example if you are on a low income or are a student, a pensioner, disabled or a carer. If you are a single occupant of the property you can apply for a 25% discount.
Make sure you register with or notify your GP, dentist and other services of your change of address. Follow the link for information about local health services.
If you are claiming any benefits it is important you let the DWP know of your change of address. Visit your local jobcentre or call Jobcentre Plus to tell the DWP about any changes.
When you contact the DWP they will need:
- your name
- your date of birth
- your National Insurance number
Jobcentre Plus Telephone: 0345 608 8545
You can find information on your waste and recycling here.
If you need specialist advice on any of the topics above, you can find information about local advice agencies here: