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Getting help with rent

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Sometimes you get caught short, in more ways than one. Getting caught short for money is perhaps the most common way amongst adults. Here are some of the more common ways of legitimately finding some extra money to pay for your rent:

The most common route favoured by young people the world over is asking their parents. Some are happy to oblige, some would rather you stood on your own two feet, but they probably offer the best chance of success as long as it doesn't become a monthly occurrence.

You have three main options:

  • Negotiate with your employer for an advance on the next month's wages. Be careful that this isn't going to leave you in an even worse state next time the rent is due.

  • Work some overtime or get a second job.

  • Get a more highly paid job altogether. Remember that you may be paid a week, a fortnight or a month in hand, which may mean a period without money.

Depending on the relationship that you have with the landlord, you may be able to negotiate some sort of arrangement. It may be that he or she agrees for the rent to be taken out of your bond, or you may be able to work off the rent by decorating the property or carrying out some other form of work for him.

Car boot sale
Flogging your old stuff is a desperate course of action, but sometimes needs must.

Social fund
This is a system by which people on low incomes can receive payments and discretionary grants or loans for needs that cannot be met from their regular income. Payments are made by benefits agencies.

Social fund payments are very hard to get but it is still worth applying. If you are turned down, you have a right to a review where the decision may be overturned. You may receive a budgeting or crisis loan instead of a grant. Remember that if you are offered a loan then you will have to pay it back out of your weekly benefit. Contact your local citizens advice bureau for further information.

Housing benefit
Housing benefit is money that enables people on low incomes to pay their rent. You need to be over 16. It is not directly linked to whether you are working or claiming jobseekers allowance.

You will need to fill in an application form, which you can obtain from the local council or benefits office. Each council deals with the housing benefit claims for its area. The local council has a duty to make payment within fourteen days of receipt of the correct paperwork and information. They will need to see proof of your income, savings and tenancy agreement.

Your age, the number of people in your household, the rent you pay and your income all affect the amount of housing benefit you receive. If the rent you pay is high then the housing benefit section of the council may restrict the amount of money that you receive. Always ask the council to assess the maximum amount of rent that they will cover for a property in advance of signing an agreement. If your housing benefit does not cover your rent, get advice.

Bear in mind that housing benefit will not cover charges in your rent for water rates, heating, hot water or other utilities.

Many private landlords and lettings agents will not deal with people on housing benefit.

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