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Social housing pre-tenancy information

The following information is for applicants who wish to join the Housing Register to:

  • Give you a clear understanding of the costs involved in running a home and household bills you pay
  • Inform you of your rights and responsibilities as a new tenant
  • Let you know what you can expect from your new home
  • Make you aware of what could happen if you were to breach your tenancy
  • Provide budgeting advice

Paying rent

Types of rent

The three most common types of rent are:

Social rent is the lowest rent rate. The amount of rent charged is based on a rent formula defined by the Government to keep rents affordable. They base the calculation on property size, local earnings and property values in the area.

Affordable rent is charged at 80% of market rent. This means affordable rent is generally around 20% cheaper than private renting.

Market rent is the amount of rent private landlords charge. This is the most expensive rent rate. Some properties advertised through the Choice Based Lettings Scheme are short-term lets. They are market rental properties.

Most homes available through our Choice Based Lettings Scheme charge social rent.

Please read the property adverts carefully to make sure you know how much rent you'll have to pay. You must choose an option that is affordable to you.

Service charges

Registered Social Landlords may also apply service charges on top of your rent. This is to cover costs for the scheme manager, alarm monitoring, and any other scheme costs.

Payment in advance

Before you receive the keys to your new home, you may need to pay your landlord some rent in advance. This may be an amount equivalent to rent for one week, two weeks, four weeks or a month, depending on your landlord.

After you move in, your rent will always be due in advance no matter how you pay.

Sara is looking for a flat to rent. She is 27 and lives with her parents but would like to move into her own home. She has a budget of £350 a month for her rent. She can’t pay any more than that because she bought a car this year and is making monthly loan repayments. She knows that renting privately isn’t an option but doesn’t know what to do next.

Sara could do one of the following:

  • Look for a room in a shared house in her price range – it’s a more affordable way of moving out
  • Stay living with her parents until she has paid off her car loan and has more money in her monthly budget

Budgeting and bills

Besides your rent, you need to set aside money each month to cover your other essential costs. This includes:

  • Council tax
  • Food
  • Utility bills (gas, water, electricity etc)

To manage a budget well, you need to know:

  • How much money you have to spend each month
  • What payments you should prioritise

If you can, try to save a little bit of money each month too. That will keep your budget on track when you have to pay for extra expenses.

Check out the budgeting tool on the EntitledTo website. This can help you work out what you can afford each week / month.

Benefit claims

People on a low income are entitled to help with rent payments.

Universal Credit is a benefit for working-age people. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays you the money monthly in arrears. It goes into your bank account, in the same way as a salary.

You will be responsible for paying your rent directly to your landlord.

You may have to wait up to five weeks for your first payment. Think about ways that you can prepare to pay your first few weeks' rent in advance.

People claiming Universal Credit will receive one monthly payment. You are responsible for budgeting to make sure that you use this to pay your rent and all your essential bills on time.

It is possible that your rent may be higher than the amount you receive in benefit payment. If this is the case, you will be responsible for paying the remainder of your rent.

Universal Credit is just one type of benefit. Depending on your age and circumstances you may be eligible to apply for others.

Visit our Benefits pages.

Jonah lives in a two-bedroom house with his daughter. The rent is charged at the 'Affordable rent' rate. This costs him £500 a month. Jonah receives £420 Housing Cost Element as part of his monthly Universal Credit payment. So Jonah has to find an additional £80 each month to make sure he doesn’t fall into arrears.

What should Jonah do? He could find a part time job that means he can still look after his daughter when she is not at school.

What to expect from your new home

The homes you will be bidding for won't have furniture, carpet, curtains or white goods. You will need to plan how to furnish your home.

If you live in short-stay accommodation managed by a housing association, they may be able to help you obtain second-hand furniture.

You can find some bargains if you are happy to consider second-hand furniture and appliances.

The British Heart Foundation offers ‘pre-loved’ furniture and appliances at an affordable price. Gumtree, eBay and Facebook market place are also options for finding furnishings.

We have also included some information about sourcing white goods on our Housing Register page.

Avoid loans with very high-interest rates. They can quickly become unaffordable. Never accept a loan from a loan shark. If you are in financial difficulty, visit the Citizens Advice website for advice.

Lucy has just moved in to a new home. Lucy has three young children so there is a lot of laundry to do. She would like to buy her own washing machine so she doesn’t have to keep doing the laundry at her parent’s house. At the moment, Lucy can afford to save £15 each month.

Lucy could do one of the following:

  • Save a little each month until she can afford to buy the washing machine outright. It will probably take about a year to save enough.
  • Apply for a low interest credit union loan, she can borrow £200 this week. It will cost her £230 to pay back over a year.

What happens if you don't pay your rent

What happens if you don’t pay your rent? 

If you do not keep your rent payments up to date you could lose your home.

No one wants that to happen.

Talk to your landlord. Tell them if your circumstances change in a way that may affect your ability to pay rent. It’s much better if you can have this conversation before you fall into arrears.

Failing to pay rent will result in eviction.

In most cases, you would expect to pay court costs (which can be more than £300) on top of your rent arrears, as well as losing your home.

Working with your landlord will usually help to avoid court action and the extra costs that involves and keep you in your home.

Maintaining your tenancy

It is a requirement that you sign a tenancy agreement when you accept the keys to your new home.

This sets out what your landlord deems to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It should also state what you can expect from your landlord in return.

Your tenancy agreement will cover topics such as:

  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Maintaining your home
  • When your landlord will need access to your home
  • Repairs
  • Rent payments

This is a legally binding contract. Failure to comply with the terms of your tenancy agreement could result in eviction. Make sure you read this carefully or ask your landlord to explain it to you.

Get prepared

Start preparing for your tenancy today.

Start saving

Universal Credit is paid in arrears and you may not receive a payment for up to five weeks. Having some money on your rent account will be a buffer to help you through those first few weeks.

Set up a bank or Credit Union account

You need an account to receive Universal Credit payments. You may also then be in a better position to improve your credit rating and apply for an affordable loan.

Get online

You will need to manage your benefits online. You can also manage many household bills online and you can often save money by shopping online too.