Renting a property

If you’re leaving the Service and getting your own place for the first time you may consider renting – either with a partner or sharing with a group of friends.

Whether you’re renting from a private landlord, a Letting Agency or a local authority, it’s important not to overstretch yourself when renting a property – you’ll need money to live on and most bills probably won’t be included in the rent.

Get Services help

See SPACES, the Single Persons Accommodation Centre for the Ex Services for what help is available if you're single and leaving the Service for civilian life.

And don’t forget to take advantage of the help and advice that the Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) offer. They can help you consider your housing options through briefings and other information.

How much rent can you afford?

To see how much rent you can afford, you first need to add up all your other expenses. Read on for an overview of the up-front and ongoing costs you need to consider before deciding whether or not you can afford the rent. 

Estimate the cost of your rent plus bills

Renting a home involves more than just being able to cover your rent.  Here's a list of the most common household bills you should expect as a tenant. 

Council Tax, utilities and service charges

your tenancy agreement

Read your tenancy agreement. It sets out what you must do as well as what your landlord is responsible for. See for more information.

  • Council Tax (usually paid monthly, England, Scotland, Wales) or rates bill (Northern Ireland).
  • Gas and electricity bills (either by a pre-payment meter, monthly by Direct Debit).
  • Water bills (usually paid monthly).
  • Service charges (in some properties – paid monthly or annually).

Ask the agency, landlord or previous tenant to give you estimates for these bills when you have a look around the property. Use the links below to check Council Tax and rates bands for specific addresses. Check Council Tax bands for England and Wales on Check Council Tax bands in Scotland.  Find out about rates for rental property in Northern Ireland.

Other monthly costs that could affect how much rent you can afford

Bear in mind you will probably have extra monthly bills to pay, such as:

  • A TV licence (paid monthly or annually – visit to find out how much this costs)
  • Landline phone bill (plus any connection charges – can be paid quarterly or monthly)
  • Contents insurance (paid monthly or annually) - see Insurance for your home
  • Digital TV or satellite TV subscriptions (paid monthly) 
  • Broadband bill (paid monthly or quarterly)

Draw up a budget of all of your costs

You should also try to make a realistic estimate of what you'll spend each month on other day-to-day expenses such as:  

bear in mind

You'll have to pay a rental deposit, and maybe agency and removal fees before you've even moved in, so budget for them too.

  • Loans or credit card repayments
  • Travel/car insurance
  • Mobile phone
  • Food/clothes
  • Gym/hobbies/nights out
  • Childcare/maintenance

If in doubt, over-estimate rather than under-estimate. You don’t want to risk getting into debt after a few months because you forgot to factor in one of your regular monthly payments.

Once you’ve got estimates for each of these items, you can draw up a budget so you can calculate how much rent you can afford. This will show you exactly how much money you have coming in each month and how much you have going out in expenses. Then you’ll have peace of mind that you will have enough money to live on, once you have paid your rent.

Remember to divide an annual expense – such as paying for Christmas or a summer holiday – by 12, so the cost is split evenly across the year. Use our Budget planner to get a detailed breakdown of your spending.

If the figures are looking tight, see Savvy spending to get expert advice about saving money on bills at home and when out and about. 

Watch this Managing money video from the Money Advice Service to find out the best way to keep on top of your money and manage your finances.

Money fitness tip

You can apply for a loan to meet the cost of your deposit from the MOD Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme. Check the MOD Defence Intranet.

Don’t forget the upfront costs

Before you sign the tenancy agreement, you’ll need to make sure you can afford to pay the costs of moving into the property.

Rental deposit

Your deposit is likely to be the biggest expense if you’re renting a new place, so make sure you have these funds before you commit yourself.

From June 2019, refundable tenancy deposits are capped at no more than five weeks’ rent if the rent is less than £50,000 a year, and six weeks’ rent if the rent is more than £50,000 a year.

Find out more about what you can and can’t be charged for when renting by landlords and agents on the GOV.UK website

This money will be held in a deposit protection scheme and, if there is no damage, you should get it back when you move out.

If you don’t have the money for a deposit, ask your local council to find out whether there are rent deposit, bond or rent-guarantee schemes in your area to can help you.

But bear in mind not all landlords and lettings agents will accept deposits in this form – you’ll need to ask.

If the council can't help, contact The Royal British Legion.  In certain situations they can provide a Deposit Guarantee to the landlord in place of a traditional deposit.


In England and Wales, if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007, your landlord must place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme - see

Read about rent deposit, bond and rent guarantees schemes on the Shelter website. 

Find your local council on the GOV.UK website.

Check out this helpful renting checklist on the GOV.UK website.

Agency fees

From June 2019, letting agents in England will no longer be allowed to charge admin fees for things like checking references, or renewing a tenancy. This could save renters an average of £400.

Letting fees were already banned in Scotland, but are still legal in Wales and Northern Ireland.

For example, charges for checking references range from £10 to £275, while charges for renewing a tenancy range from £12 to £200.

Removal or storage fees

Get local estimates for these. You can probably save yourself money by hiring a van and moving yourself if you’re up to it!  

Furniture or furnishings

If you’re moving into an unfurnished place, don’t forget to budget for the cost of furniture and soft furnishings such as curtains.

More money information if renting

See Budgeting and sharing costs when renting and Responsibiliies when renting.

Last reviewed: 20/11/2019

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service