Finding a private rented home
Social housing is in very high demand and households can wait on the Housing Register for many years.
For those facing homelessness, the Council increasingly sources homes within the private rented sector to discharge its housing duty. Information about accommodation within the private rented sector is often available:
- through lettings and accommodation agencies
- Social Media - Facebook Marketplace
- word of mouth - asking friends and family
- local magazines such as Loot/News Shopper etc
When looking for private rented accommodation it is important to keep yourself updated and get regular information about vacancies and follow it up on the same day or as soon as possible.
Sources of information include newspapers, websites and accommodation agencies. Most accommodation agencies also have internet sites where accommodation is advertised and some are completely web-based. Libraries often provide free internet access, and you may find the following sites useful in your search for accommodation:
- Dignity Housing
- Find a Flat
- Friday Ad
- House Ladder
- I Am the Agent
- Local Housing Solutions
- Prime Location
- Spare Room
- Stone Housing
Many of the above websites are also able to provide information about accommodation across and outside London. It may help in your search to look further afield than you at first thought (widen your search).
If you are looking to relocate to other areas of the country for personal or affordability reasons, there are agents who can assist with arranging viewings:
If, in your search, you find accommodation which is suitable for you and your needs, we would advise you to contact the Landlord/Agent immediately and arrange a viewing for the property. When you view any accommodation or speak to a Landlord/Agent, you should use this opportunity to find out as much as you can about the accommodation before you agree to move in, sign any agreements or agree to pay any deposit, first month’s rent in advance etc. We would advise you to:
- be clear how much the rent is
- be clear whether the rent includes the cost of any bills
- be clear regarding how much the council tax is
- ask for an estimate of how much the bills are - both in winter and summer so you can be sure on future affordability
- ask if any bills are shared with other people that may be living in the property also
- you will need to ask to see the current gas, electrical and energy performance certificates for the accommodation
- How to Rent Guide - checklist for England
As lettings can be made quickly, you should aim to visit and decide whether a property is suitable without delay.
Once you find accommodation in the private rented sector you should apply to Universal Credit (DWP) for an assessment - eligibility and financial assessment applies.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to work out the housing element for tenants who rent privately. How much you get is usually based on:
- the borough where you live
- your household size - find out how many bedrooms you’re eligible for and your LHA rate
- your income - including contribution-based benefits, pensions and savings (over £16,000)
- your current circumstances
|Property||Weekly Amount||Monthly Amount|
|1 bedroom (shared accommodation)*||Up to £103.56||Up to £448.76|
|1 bedroom*||Up to £205.97||Up to £892.54|
|2 bedrooms||Up to £253.15||Up to £1096.98|
|3 bedrooms||Up to £299.18||Up to £1296.45|
|4 bedrooms||Up to £368.22||Up to £1595.62|
* Be aware that if you are a single person under the age of 35, you will not be able to receive Housing Benefit/Universal Credit for a one-bedroom property, you will only be eligible for the shared room rate (single room in shared accommodation). The exception will be if you are in receipt of DLA (Disability Living Allowance, PIP (Personal Independence Payment) or ESA (Employment Support Allowance).
Renting a room in shared accommodation will also be cheaper than renting a self-contained property as normally all bills will be included with the rental cost and your only other outlay may be items such as food, clothing, travel, phone bills. You may decide to go into shared accommodation whilst you save enough money to be able to afford self-contained accommodation.
For more information on the affordability of renting a property, please visit entitledto where you can enter your current circumstances to get an accurate benefit estimate.
Please note that the Local Housing Allowance rates set in London are lower, in general, than many market rents.
Securing a private let
Once you have found a property with a landlord/estate agent who is willing to offer you a tenancy, which is safe, affordable and suitable, you will need to secure this property by means of a deposit and rent in advance. You may also want to take a look at Banned tenant fees and penalties for landlords regarding the recent Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The council may be able to assist you with deposit/rent in advance if you meet the criteria. In order to be assessed you will need to provide the following:
- proof of income (wage slips, proof of benefits, bank statements)
- full address of the property
- contact details for landlord/estate agent so that we can obtain confirmation of let and bank details (funds are always paid direct to agents and not to tenants)
- monthly rent amount
- deposit amount
- valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)
- valid Gas Safety Certificate (If the property has gas)
- valid EICR (Electrical Installation Certificate Regulation)
- Tenancy Agreement
Please note if the letting agency or landlord refuses to rent to you due to any benefit claim this is unlawful, and you can take further action as detailed in How to challenge DSS discrimination.