Your housing options

If you can't buy your own home, renting a place to live (either from a private or social landlord) will be your most likely option. It depends on your circumstances as to whether you rent privately or from a social landlord but for some renting privately may be the best option.

Currently we have a shortage of social housing in the city so private rented accommodation may be a better housing option if you're looking for a somewhere to live quickly, or need to live in a particular area.

Private rented accommodation

You can use a letting agent to help you find private rented accommodation. Letting agents will usually charge a fee, which they must display on their premises and website. Visit the Shelter website for useful advice and information before handing over any money.

It may be cheaper to find accommodation yourself online or in the local paper. You can get free internet access at your local library.

Affordable home ownership

If you can't afford to buy a home you may be able to get financial help through a government home ownership scheme.

Social and sheltered housing

Once you've joined the Devon Home Choice housing register and had your application assessed (this can sometimes take a few weeks) you can view and bid on social or housing association housing available in Plymouth.

We can help you with your application but you need to be aware that:

  • there are far more people seeking council and housing association homes than there are properties available
  • even if you're assessed as having a high housing need, it may take you a long time to find a housing association home
  • most social housing landlords are now requesting that all applicants (in paid work or claiming benefits) pay up to one month's rent in advance before signing a tenancy agreement (you may want to start saving as you'll be expected to have the funds available to you)
  • some social landlords are now carrying out credit checks on new tenants so if you've a poor credit history they may not offer you a tenancy

The Devon Home Choice website explains how the system works.

Visit our 1st Stop shop, email housingoptions@plymouth.gov.uk or call 01752 305496 (select option 1) if you've any queries or if you've an emergency need for housing.

Costs of moving into a new home

Rent in advance

If you're renting a home from a social or private landlord, or even just a room in a home, you're likely to have to pay some rent in advance. How much you need will depend on a number of factors, but it's a good idea to make sure you've enough money to pay one month's rent upfront. In some circumstances help may be available, but most people (including those on benefits) will be expected to save towards these costs.

Some agents will also charge fees for other services, for example credit checks, inventories and tenancy agreements. Before handing over any money or entering into an agreement, it worth shopping around for these services, as fees can vary.

Other costs (either for the first time or if you're moving accommodation) can include:

  • White goods (fridges, washing machines, cookers and freezers)
  • Beds and bedding
  • Tables and chairs
  • Cooking and eating utensils
  • Other furnishings
  • Electrical goods

You won't necessarily need all of these items in order to move in but unless you've the basics (or the money to buy them) some landlords, including social landlords, may be reluctant to offer you a tenancy. We recommend you start a savings account as soon as possible to give yourself some money to be able to buy the essentials. You can do this by using the Plymouth Credit Union or using a savings account of your choice.

Help with rent

If you're on a low income you may be entitled to the following benefits to help towards your rent:

Deposit guarantee

We may be able to help you into private rented accommodation with a deposit guarantee (a written agreement in place of a cash deposit, valid for twelve months). You'll be offered this if you've no other means of securing a deposit and you'll be expected to save towards your own cash deposit to replace the deposit guarantee after twelve months.

If you're eligible for this scheme you'll need to have 10 per cent of the deposit available on the day you sign the tenancy agreement, plus a further £3 to open a Credit Union account (if you've not already opened one).

You need to ask us if we can help you with a deposit guarantee before you sign any agreements or hand over any money. We can't help if you've already begun your tenancy.

Email housingoptions@plymouth.gov.uk or call 01752 305496 (select option 1) for more information.