Issues with money can be very stressful – and even more so if the problems are with your home.

Do your best to stay calm. As someone renting a home, you have rights. And there are places you can go for help.

On this page, we’ll look at:

  • what you can do if you can’t afford your rent
  • what to do if your landlord won’t return your deposit
  • how much you usually must pay
  • where to go for help.

I can’t afford my rent

If you’re struggling to pay the rent, it’s usually because your landlord has put the price up or your situation has changed.

Your landlord must do certain things before increasing your rent. The rules depend on what sort of tenancy you have.

If your tenancy is on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis, your landlord can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year.

If your tenancy is fixed term, your landlord can only increase the rent if you agree. If you don’t agree, they must wait until the term ends.

In all cases, the rent increase must be fair, which means it must be like other rates in the area.

You might be able to reach an agreement with your landlord. They might negotiate on price rather than lose you as a tenant.

Getting help with money

If your financial situation has changed and you’re finding it hard to pay the rent, there are things you can do.

The first thing you should do is talk to your landlord or housing association.

Try to work out what the problem is. It might be obvious – like if you’ve lost your job or a partner has moved out.

Citizens Advice has a free budgeting tool that can help you work out how much you’ll need for bills.

If your income has fallen, you might be able to claim benefits to help with the rent. There is a housing payment part of Universal Credit.

If you are worried about being evicted, you can find out more about your rights here.

My landlord won’t give me my deposit back

When you first rent a property, your landlord must put your deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).

The first stage of getting your deposit back is writing to your landlord. You can find out more, including a template email, on Shelter’s website

Your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days of agreeing how much will be returned.

You have the most chance of getting some or all your deposit back if you leave the property in the same state as you found it. It can be a good idea to take photographs to show how you left it. You can also get your landlord to sign a checkout inventory.

There are some things your landlord can deduct money for and some things they can’t.

Your landlord can deduct money if:

  • the property has been damaged
  • you haven’t paid rent
  • items are missing
  • the property needs to be cleaned
  • you left before the end of your tenancy.

Your landlord can’t deduct money for ‘reasonable wear and tear’. This means things getting gradually worse over time. For example, carpets become worn or paintwork is scuffed.

How much do I have to pay?

The biggest cost when renting a home is usually the rent itself. But there will be other things you have to pay for.

Your landlord might be paying some bills directly and charging you through rent. It’s important to know what you must pay for separately.

The main bills linked to the property are:

  • water bills
  • service charges (usually in flats)
  • council tax
  • gas and electricity bills.

You may also have other bills. These are usually things like:

  • TV licence
  • phone bills
  • contents insurance
  • entertainment subscriptions
  • broadband.

Where to get help

If you are struggling to pay the rent, you might be able to get extra money to help. You can find out if you’re able to get Housing Benefit or apply for Universal Credit

There are charities that help people facing homelessness. Find out if you can get help on the Turn2us website.

Before you take legal action against a landlord, it’s usually best to write to them first. Together you may be able to fix the problem. If you do decide to take your landlord to court, you'll need to show that you've tried to sort the problem out.

You can find out more about acting against a landlord on GOV.UK.