Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Private Rented Sector

Given the limited number and availability of social housing, generally it is possible to find a private rented property more quickly than getting a property via Kent Homechoice.

The private rented sector provides you with more choice in selecting the type, size and location of property you would like. Considering the private sector as an option may well be your best way of finding a suitable home for you and for your family.
The following websites are useful for sourcing properties to rent:

•    Rightmove
•    Zoopla
•    Primelocation
•    Spareroom
•    Gumtree

We would also recommend searching the small ads in the property pages of the local press, in particular the Kentish Gazette. You could also look at the notices in shop windows and on supermarket notice boards. You may find properties here that are not advertised through letting agents and they sometimes have lower access costs for deposit and rent in advance.

The Entitledto website can be used to find out which additional benefits and tax credits you may be eligible for.

Benefit entitlements are based on the amount of Local Housing Allowance that you are entitled to. Local Housing Allowance is calculated according to the number of bedrooms that your family needs and you may find the following information helpful as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.

You are entitled to one bedroom for:
•    every adult couple (married or unmarried)
•    any other adult aged 16 or over
•    any two children of the same sex aged under 16
•    any two children aged under 10
•    any other child.

There are, however, extra rules if you are:
•    aged 25 or over, single and do not live with any dependants
•    aged under 25, single and do not live with any dependants
•    a couple and do not live with any dependants
•    a care leaver aged under 22
•    severely disabled

What is Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance or LHA is the way of calculating Housing Benefit (HB) and is based on the area you live in, the number of occupiers in the property and household size. LHA ensures that tenants in similar circumstances in the same area receive the same amount of financial support for their housing costs.

How is Local Housing Allowance Calculated?

The LHA rates are calculated for individual areas, known as Broad Rental Market Areas, each year. The amount payable will be based on the ‘30th percentile’ rental figure for the area, which the property is in and will take account of the size of the property.

How is LHA paid?

LHA is normally paid straight into a bank or building society account. Payment is not normally made directly to a landlord.

How is my entitlement to LHA calculated

To work out entitlement to the allowance, the following is looked at:
•    money the household has coming in, including earnings, some benefits and tax credits and things like occupational pensions
•    savings and partner's savings
•    circumstances such as age, the ages and size of family, whether anyone in the household is disabled, and whether anyone who lives in the property could help with the rent

The following is also considered:
•    whether the amount of rent is reasonable
•    whether the home is of a reasonable size for the family

Remember the Local Housing Allowance is the maximum that can be paid towards your rent.
To find out an exact benefit entitlement a claim form should be completed which will tell you how much benefit you will get. To make a claim for housing benefit it is necessary to fill in a claim form online and provide all the information needed about income and savings.
Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age. It will eventually replace the following benefits that people claim when out of work or when working and living on a low income.
•    housing benefit
•    income support (IS)
•    income-based jobseekers' allowance (JSA)
•    income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
•    child tax credit working tax credit

A claim for universal credit can be made whether you are working or out of work. Your claim continues if you move in and out of work as long as your income and savings don't go above certain limits.

For more information see Shelter's website page on how to claim universal credit.

Upfront costs

Most landlords charge a tenancy deposit to cover the costs of breakages and/or missed rent plus at least a month’s rent in advance. Lettings agents may also charge administration fees for carrying out a credit check, for example. However, landlords or agents are not permitted to charge you for registering your interest or showing you around a property.

Most local councils have loan or guarantee schemes that will help you with the upfront costs of renting if you have insufficient savings. If your council offers you a loan, you will need to take the cost of repaying the loan into account when you complete a budget – ask the local council for help with this.

Tenancy deposit protection

Landlords are required to protect your tenancy deposit in a registered scheme. We have more information on tenancy deposits here.