Rent deposit guarantee scheme
A deposit is the cash amount you pay to your landlord when you sign your tenancy agreement. Since the 1 June 2019, landlords are not allowed to charge more than 5 weeks rent as a deposit if the annual rent is less than £50,000 per year or more than 6 weeks rent if the annual rent is more than £50,000 per year. For example if the monthly rent is £500, the maximum deposit that can be charged is £576.92.
If you are not able to pay the deposit yourself, you can apply to the rent deposit guarantee scheme. If you are accepted onto the scheme, the council will sign an agreement with the landlord to cover the cost of the deposit. No cash is given to the landlord or tenant. The landlord will claim the money from the council at the end of the tenancy if there are grounds to do so.
If the council has to pay the deposit to the landlord, you must pay this amount back to the council at an agreed weekly or monthly amount and you will not be able to apply to the scheme again until the debt is cleared.
You must not sign the tenancy agreement or move into the property until you and your landlord have been told that you can by the officer running the scheme.
How long is the deposit covered for?
The council will agree to cover the deposit for a maximum of 12 months. If the tenancy is only for 6 months, the agreement can be renewed for a further 6 months if the tenancy is renewed. After the 12 months, you must pay any future deposits.
The idea of the scheme is that the tenant uses the 12 months to save enough money to pay for future deposits.
Who can apply?
The scheme is open to anyone aged 16 or above who is claiming income benefits or is on a low wage (single people aged 16-25 will only be entitled to the standard room rate for a bedroom in shared accommodation).
- You must have lived in the West Lancashire area for at least the last 12 months
- The property you want to rent must be in West Lancashire
- You must not have any other way of paying the deposit (i.e. no savings)
Who can’t apply?
The scheme is not available to the following people:
- Current council or housing association tenants
- People who have voluntarily left a council or housing association tenancy within the last 12 months
- People from outside the UK who are not eligible for local authority housing assistance
- People under the age of 16
People who have been evicted from a council or housing association tenancy or who have been assessed as being intentionally homeless will not be automatically excluded from the scheme. Each case is assessed individually.
Where the eviction was for serious anti-social behaviour, the granting of a deposit guarantee would be subject to any support arrangements that were in place, or going to be put in place, to address the behaviour.
Where the eviction was for rent arrears, the current financial capability of the applicant would be taken into account to ensure the current tenancy would be sustainable. Referrals to support agencies would also be carried out.
I think I’m eligible. When do I apply for the scheme?
You can apply for the scheme once you have found a property that you would like to rent. Follow these steps .
Step 1: Find out how much Local Housing Allowance you are entitled to.
The maximum rent that a person can claim is now set based on the area the property is in and the number of bedrooms they need. The allowances are available to view online and in council offices.
You must find out what the maximum amount available is for a suitable property in your chosen area. The amount you will actually be paid will still be based on your income.
Step 2: Find a property
Once you know how much local housing allowance you are entitled to, you can look for properties in that price range. There are different ways of finding a home to rent privately. Properties can be advertised through local estate agents, on the internet or in the local papers.
Some landlords rent their properties directly to you while others will use an agent - know as a 'letting agent.'
Step 3: Apply to the scheme
Download the Rent Deposit Scheme application form (PDF 121KB) and send it to the Homelessness Advice & Prevention Team.
If the rent is more than the amount of Local Housing Allowance that you are entitled to, you will have to pay the difference. We will look at how much this is and whether you can afford to pay it before we will agree to pay the deposit.
It is important that you make sure that you can pay the difference before you move into the property because your landlord can evict you if you do not pay.
Step 4: The inspection
If you are accepted onto the scheme we will visit the property you want to rent with an officer from our Private Sector Housing Team. They will check the property is safe for you to rent and that the landlord has certificates to show the gas and electric are safe.
An inventory will also be carried out. An inventory is a list of the contents and condition of the property. The officer will write down the condition of every room in the house so that any damage can be pointed out to the landlord before you move in. If the property has some furniture in it, a list of the furniture and its condition will also be taken.
Once you have moved into the property, it is important that you report any damage or worn out items to your landlord immediately.
Step 5: Moving in
If the property passes its inspection we will tell you that you can sign the tenancy agreement and move into the property.
The landlord and the council will sign a contract, which guarantees that if you don’t keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement, we will pay the deposit. No money is given to you or your landlord.