Other moving-in payments
Before you move into a new house you may be asked to pay other sums of money in addition to your deposit, or as a condition of being granted a tenancy.
A premium (also called “key money”) is a non-returnable sum paid to a landlord to secure a property. Very few landlords ask for a premium, but it is not illegal and there are no restrictions on the amount a landlord can request. If your landlord requires a premium think carefully whether you should pay it.
If you find accommodation through an agency, it is likely that you will be charged for this service and also be asked to pay other charges e.g. for drawing up a tenancy agreement or inventory. You can only be charged if and when an agent is successful in finding you somewhere to live. It is a criminal offence for an agent to ask for money to register you or for supplying details of houses to let.
A retainer is a payment made to a landlord by a prospective tenant who wishes to move into the accommodation at a later date. There are no restrictions on the amount the landlord can ask from the prospective tenant, but students commonly pay half-rent for July and August (see below). In the period of time covered by the retainer leading up to the date when your tenancy starts, the landlord has complete access to the property, including the right to rent it out to others.
Some landlords charge half-rent during the time period after the contract has started but before you have moved in, again this is usually for July and August. During this period of ‘half-rent’ you have a legal right to access the property, and the landlord shouldn’t restrict your access. Some contracts state that if you actually move in during this ‘half-rent’ period you will have to pay full rent.
Rent In Advance
Some private landlords ask for rent to be paid in advance before the tenant can move in. How much rent in advance (if any) they may ask you to pay will vary, and landlords are free to ask for any amount – however, we recommend that you do not pay more than one rental period (e.g. one month).
For information about Post-dated cheques, please see our PDF.
Before you move into a privately rented home or sign an agreement, make sure you have the following in writing:
• How much rent you will pay and exactly what it includes. Check whether the rent includes bills.
• When you should pay. Rent is usually paid monthly or termly in advance.
• How you should pay. This is usually by standing order, cheque or cash. If you pay cash, always make sure you get a receipt. Some landlords ask students for post-dated cheques, usually for the rent for the whole tenancy period.
• Any 'rent review' clauses in the tenancy agreement.
If you have any queries regarding housing payments, please contact Students' Union Advice.
Citizens Advice – Renting from a letting agency
Shelter – Paying for a home.
Unipol – Rent and hidden costs.