I want to privately rent a home
Where to look for private properties to rent
If you're looking for properties to rent from private landlords you should start by contacting local estate agents, letting agents or look in the local newspaper. The Friday-Ad Magazine also carries a range of local rental properties. The following websites may also be of use:
The websites above are for information only and are not a recommendation from the council.
Most letting agents will require one month's rent in advance plus a deposit equal to one month's rent before you can move in. You will also generally need to provide work, character or landlord references.
Agents may also charge a separate refundable holding deposit capped at no more than one week's rent to secure a property that you would like to rent. If you are thinking of paying a holding deposit make sure to ask the letting agent to put in writing what the money is for and that it will be refunded.
Some letting agents may require you to have a guarantor who meets specific requirements, eg. is a homeowner. You should not be charged a fee for this. You should always check if you need a guarantor before paying a holding deposit.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019 introduced changes to the private rented sector and tenancy deposits are now capped. Most fees charged in connection with a tenancy are banned. It is illegal for letting agents and landlords to charge certain fees from 1 June 2019. To check the list of illegal fees and to find out how to report a landlord or letting agent you think is breaching the ban, see the government's guidance on the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
Where a letting agent is permitted to charge fees, by law, a breakdown of all fees should be clearly visible to you in the agent's office and website including any third party website they advertise on.
The only payments in connection with a tenancy that can be asked to be made are:
- the rent
- a refundable tenancy deposit capped at:
(a) no more than five weeks' rent where your total annual rent is less than £50,000, or
(b) six weeks' rent where your total annual rent is £50,000 or above
- a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at no more than one week's rent
- payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher
- payments associated with early termination of the tenancy, when requested by the tenant
- payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax
- a default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device giving access to the property, where required under a tenancy agreement.
If the payment a landlord or agent is charging is not on this list then it is not lawful, and a landlord or agent should not ask a tenant to pay it.
A landlord cannot evict a tenant using the section 21 eviction procedure until they have repaid any unlawfully charged fees or returned an unlawfully retained holding deposit. All other rules around the application of the section 21 evictions procedure will continue to apply.
Deposit protection If the landlord asks for a deposit, check that it will be protected in a government approved scheme. Some schemes hold the money, and some insure it.
More details on how to rent can be found on the government's how to rent website.
Affording your privately rented home
You may be entitled to housing costs as part of Universal Credit.
The amount of housing costs entitlement is determined by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The LHA rate is dependent on your income, household size and age. To find out your LHA entitlement go to our What do I need to know before making a claim page or visit the Direct gov website.
You can also get confidential advice on benefits from:
Once you know what your LHA entitlement is, you'll be able to search for properties in that price range. If you are not entitled to the full LHA amount you can complete our Budget Sheet to help you work out how much rent you can afford:
Your housing cost element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit is normally paid directly to the claimant. In some circumstances you can request that these payments are made direct to your landlord. To arrange this, you will need to contact either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit directly.
Rent in advance and deposit fees
Landlords normally ask for one month's rent in advance and one month's rent as a deposit.
We may be able to help you with an interest free loan to cover rent in advance or deposit. To access this money, you must first have had an appointment with a Housing Options Officer.
If you have not yet had an appointment, you must call the council and make an appointment to see a Housing Options Officer to discuss your housing situation. Please go to our I'm at risk of being or already am homeless webpage. You must contact your Housing Options Officer once you have found a property that you would like to rent.
If you don’t have any money saved for furniture or households items and can't borrow any money, you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan through Job Centre Plus.
Your tenancy deposit once you find a property:
- Landlords usually ask for one month's rent as a deposit
- If you let your property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) your landlord has to pay your deposit into a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme
- Your landlord must protect your deposit within 30 days of your tenancy starting. They must tell you in writing which scheme they are using and how you can apply to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy
- You should be provided with an inventory which accurately describes the condition of the rental property before you move in which you should check carefully
- If you leave the property in good condition with no unpaid bills, your full deposit should be returned.
Additional support to help you find the right home
The following organisations may be able to provide further information about finding private accommodation:
- STEPS Housing support for over 60s
- The Seaview Project offers support services if you are rough sleeping, homeless or at risk of homelessness, including housing and benefits advice, help with filling in forms and advocacy. For more information visit our rough sleepers webpage
- The XTRAX Youth Hub provides housing and money advice for young people aged between 16 and 24.
Other financial help
If you’re in financial difficulties, you can get help and advice from the government and other organisations. You can find more information on the Government's Universal Credit website.
Are you homeless or at risk of being homeless?
If you are at risk of being homeless or need more advice and support, please go to our I'm at risk of being or already am homeless webpage.
- Tenant Fees Act 2019
- Housing for older people/sheltered accommodation
- Modern slavery and Discovery
- I want help to buy a home
- Housing benefit
- Other support for people aged 24 and under
- How to apply for social housing and Sussex Homemove scheme
- Rough sleepers
- I need help about domestic abuse
- I'm under 18 and at risk of being or already am homeless
- Other help and support
I need housing help