Renting from a private landlord

This page is about renting a place from a private landlord.This means renting from someone who owns a property. They usually rent it out so they can make money. They are called private landlords.

A private landlord can be:

  • A company that owns lots of properties.
  • A person or family who owns one or more properties.
  • A charity or group who just rent properties to disabled people.

A private landlord can also be someone who buys a property so they can rent it to a disabled relative.

How do I find a private landlord?

Private landlords advertise their properties in these places:

  • Aa letting agency or an estate agent
  • An advert in the local newspaper
  • On a sign outside the property
  • On the internet
  • On a shop noticeboard.

What is good about renting privately?

There are some good things:

  • There is more property to choose from
  • It can be easier to find a home that is right for you
  • You don’t have to join a waiting list
  • You can find somewhere quickly if you want to try out living in your own place for a short time, before you decide if it is right for you
  • Some private landlords work with councils to find property for disabled people.

What is not so good about renting privately?

There are some things that aren't so good:

  • It is less secure than social housing - sometimes contracts are not for very long. When they finish, the landlord can ask you to leave.
  • It can cost more - if you get Housing Benefit, it might not be enough to pay all the rent, especially if you need extra room for a carer. You would have to pay the rest from other benefits or from your own money.
  • A private landlord might not make changes to the property so that it meets your needs.
  • Private landlords are not checked to make sure that they are doing what they are supposed to do and treat tenants well.
  • A private landlord usually asks for a deposit before you can move in. This is a lump of money that can be the same as one month’s rent or more. When you move out you get this money back, as long as the landlord agrees you haven’t damaged the property.
  • Not all private landlords will let people on Housing Benefit rent their property. Sometimes they will ask you to find someone with a paid job to be a ‘guarantor’. This is someone who will agree that, if you can’t pay the rent, they will pay it for you. They will have to sign a contract to agree to this.

How does the money work?

Housing Benefit for tenancies with private landlords is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA is set at certain levels in each area according to the number of bedrooms you need. You can find out how much LHA you would be entitled to in the area you want to live by going to
If the rent for the house or flat you need is more than the LHA, you can ask for a ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’ which Housing Benefit departments can pay if they think your situation means it is fair you need to pay more rent. They do not have to give you the Discretionary Housing Payment if they don't think you need it.

There was a recent case about LHA that went to court. The judges said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must take into account disabled people's human rights when they make decisions about Housing Benefit.

What else do I need to know?

Sometimes a private landlord will buy a property to rent to a particular person. You might be able to arrange for them to buy a home that meets your needs.

Sometimes a Registered Social Landlord (a council or a Housing Association) will rent property from a private landlord, and you can rent it from them. This gives a bit more security because the Registered Social Landlord will have to make sure the property is ok.
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