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Saving money and increasing income

Saving money renting a house or flat

Renting is not always an easy option and it can be expensive. If live alone or it is your first time renting, you might be worried. It does not help that there is a lack of good homes to rent in some areas.

That can push the prices up. But there are ways to save money on your rent and daily costs.

Your rent payment is one of your priority bills. This means you need to keep paying it. If miss payments you:

  • Will 'fall into arrears'
  • Are at risk of being evicted

Here are some ways to avoid costly problems.

  1. Before you move in
  2. After you move in
  3. How can I protect myself from an untrustworthy landlord?
  4. How do I find a landlord that accepts housing benefit tenants?
  5. I want to end my private rent tenancy - what should I do?

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Before you move in

1. Make a note of any issues with the property

No home is perfect. Check any DIY that needs doing.

  • Cracked windows
  • Unkempt garden or loose flagstones
  • Debris in the gutters
  • Doorbell not working
  • Cosmetic damage such as:
    • Carpet stains
    • Chipped wallpaper
    • Loose door handles

These are small problems that can be fixed.

  • Tell the landlord about the issues you found
  • Ask them to think about lowering the rent

It is not guaranteed, but they may lower the rent for you.

If the do not lower the rent:

  • Make sure they fix the problems
  • You should not have to deal with them when you move in

You could offer to fix simple issues, like:

  • A wall that needs painting or
  • A garden that needs tidying

If you see a serious problem think about moving somewhere else.

These are things like:

  • Blocked sewage drains
  • Damp or mould
    • On the walls
    • Around window frames
    • In bathrooms or kitchens
  • Signs of structural damage
    • Loose or missing roof tiles
    • Ceiling leaks
  • Signs of vermin such as mouse droppings
  • Faulty electrics

Do not rent from a person who does not care about your safety or their property.

Read the government’s guide to renting a safe home on their website.

2. Try haggling with your landlord on rent

You do not need to take the first price you are given.

There may be nothing wrong with the property, but there are other things to think about. Such as:


How long does it take to get to:

  • Work
  • The shops
  • Your children’s school


What is the crime rate like:

  • On this street
  • In surrounding neighbourhoods


What is the traffic like?

  • Is it busy at night?
  • How might that affect your sleep?


  • Do the neighbours have dogs that bark a lot?
  • Is the area loud?

Talk to people who live there to find out what it is like.

  • They may have their own complaints about the neighbourhood
  • It is good to know before you commit to renting

Ask the landlord to review the rent cost based on what you find out. They may say no, but it is worth asking.

3. Think about living with people

Renting with other people has a lot of advantages.

  • Lower rent and bills
    • They are split between you and your housemates
  • You can share appliances like vacuums
  • You will not be lonely
    • There is usually someone at home with you
    • This can be good for your mental health

Ask the landlord to charge you less if you rent a smaller room.

4. Rent an unfurnished property

It may seem like renting a place without furniture would cost more, but not always.

There are lots of websites and online communities where you can get the furniture you need cheap or free.

  • See if a friend who drives can come with you to pick up a free furniture item
  • Offer them ‘petrol money’ in return

You can check your local authority website for information on charities that:

  • Give away second-hand furniture, or
  • Sell it cheaply

After you move in

1. Get the best deal on your electric and gas bills

You can switch the companies that supply the property when you move in.

Compare prices with other suppliers:

  • When you move in
  • And every year after that

Switching utility suppliers is easy.

Your landlord cannot force you to stay with a certain supplier. But:

  • You must let them know if you want to switch to a pre-payment meter
  • Your deposit could be affected if you do not

When you move in, make sure you get meter readings for:

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Water

Send these to your suppliers and tell them when you moved in.

This stops you being charged for any usage from previous tenants.

2. Be a polite and cooperative tenant

It may seem obvious, but be polite when you speak to your landlord. It goes a long way.

Even when you are annoyed:

  • State your case calmly and respectfully
  • Write our what you want to say before you talk them

Keeping a good relationship will help you get the response you want.

3. Get your deposit back when you leave

Light wear and tear is normal when a place is lived in.

But some landlords will try to keep your deposit if the home is not exactly like when you moved in.

Before you move out:

  • Give the property a deep clean
    • See if your friends will help, or
    • An affordable cleaner in the area
  • Take photos to prove the property is in good condition

Visit the Shelter website for more advice.

How can I protect myself from an untrustworthy landlord?

1. Check they are accredited

There are bad landlords in every city in the UK.

Make sure your potential landlord has an NLA accreditation. Check this with:

  • Your local council, or
  • Lettings agency

The NLA provide training and accreditation to private landlords to ensure they comply with UK renting laws and regulations.

2. Understand your tenancy agreement

Your agreement lists the responsibilities of both you and your landlord while you are living at the property. You will both sign it. Keep a copy to check if you ever have any problems.

Tenancy agreements must include:

  • The names of all people involved
  • The property address
  • An outline of bills you are responsible for
  • The agreed monthly rental price and how it will be paid
  • Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
  • The deposit amount and details of when it can be fully or partly withheld. Such as to repair damage you have caused
  • The start and end date of the tenancy
  • Any other tenant or landlord obligations

It can also include information on:

  • Whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
  • Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished
  • Who is responsible for minor repairs. Other than those that the landlord is legally responsible for
  • Whether the property can be let to someone else (sublet) or have lodgers

The terms of the tenancy must be fair and comply with the law. It is recommended you ask someone with legal knowledge to check the tenancy agreement before you sign.

You can find out more on the government website.

How do I find a landlord that accepts housing benefit tenants?

People who are claiming benefits can struggle to find a place to rent.

  • Many landlords will not accept housing benefit as a rental payment
  • This is also referred to as ‘DSS’

If you have found a private rental property that you want, but the landlord will not take housing benefit, you could ask them if:

  • They will accept a rent guarantor, or
  • They will take extra rent payments in advance

They may say no, but some landlords may agree. it means they will get their rent payment quicker.

I want to end my private rent tenancy – what should I do?

There may be some issues that cannot be fixed by you or your landlord. In this case, you may want to end the tenancy earlier than planned.

Your tenancy agreement will tell you how much notice your landlord needs before you can leave. But, you can end the tenancy at any time without paying full rent, if:

  • The rules set out in your tenancy agreement are not followed by your landlord, or
  • They agree to end the tenancy early

Shelter has more information on ending your private rent tenancy early.