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Information about renting privately.

Renting privately can offer you a choice of homes, and the opportunity to find a stable and affordable home, near to your work, family and friends.

Renting in the private rented sector

There are a number of options which may suit you and your household:

  • renting a room in a shared house – you would have your own bedroom but would have to share other facilities such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room.
  • lodging – when you are renting in another person’s house, usually the landlord.
  • bedsits – one larger room used for sleeping, living, eating and cooking. Often there are other bedsits in one large property making it cheaper than other options. You may be sharing some facilities, such as a bathroom and toilet.
  • living on your own in a studio - a flat with the bedroom, lounge and kitchen often in one room with a separate, private bathroom and toilet. The flat will be self-contained and it is likely that you will have to pay rent and bills separately so you should factor this into your budget.
  • sharing a house with family members – renting a whole house and sharing it with members of your family or relatives. To keep costs down, you might consider sharing bedrooms with family members. Your whole family will be responsible for paying all the bills separately.

How to find a private rented property

Watch our video about finding a home in the private rented sector. 

Search online

Popular websites that advertise homes to rent are:

Use a letting agent

A letting agent can help you find a home to rent. Register in as many agencies, as possible. New properties come up every day.

Check local newspapers and noticeboards 

Local newspapers often have sections advertising homes to rent or share.

Noticeboards in local shops often have adverts for rooms or houses to rent.

Don’t search in one small area

Be open-minded about moving a little further. You will get more for your money the further out of London you go.

Decide on the spot if the property suits your needs

If so take it. Try to bring all your documents with you to viewings. The fastest applicant usually gets the property.

Moving elsewhere in the UK

Homefinder UK helps tenants and homeless households move home. It advertises social housing across the country, not just in Lewisham. This means you could find a council home more quickly than you would if you just looked in the Lewisham borough.

With Homefinder UK you could have:

  • a secure tenancy
  • affordable rent
  • the chance to relocate
  • for single people, the opportunity to have a self-contained property.

These are all very difficult to get in London. Check the Homefinder UK website for more information.

Get financial help

Housing benefit

If you are on a low income or get benefits, you can claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent. See how much housing benefit you could get.

Universal Credit

You can get help paying for your housing if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. This is called a housing payment.

Housing payment can help you pay:

  • your rent to a private landlord
  • your rent and some service charges if you rent from a housing association or local authority
  • interest payments on your mortgage and some service charges if you/your partner own the home you live in.

Once you’ve started claiming you need to report any changes in your circumstances. If you do not, your benefits may stop.

If you already have housing application

If you already have a housing application, we can help you with your Universal Credit claim. A benefits officer will meet you to discuss your claim and explain the process of updating and changing the claim.

This is particularly useful if you have found yourself a private property and need to update the housing element of your claim.

You can ask your housing solutions officer to book you an appointment.

Budgeting loans

If you get certain benefits, you may be eligible for a budgeting loan of up to £812. This is an interest-free loan that you must pay back.

You can use it to pay rent in advance, or for other costs, such as furniture, moving house or home maintenance. See if you’re eligible for a budgeting loan and find out how to apply.

Support grants

We offer support grants of up to £250 to help vulnerable people resettle in their communities. See if you’re eligible for a support grant.

Useful websites

GOV.UK’s guide to private renting

Citizens Advice: private renting

Shelter: private renting