Finding a privately rented home will be the quickest way to improve your situation if you are looking for somewhere to live.

If you already live in a privately rented home but need to find somewhere new, your current landlord could have another suitable property. Your landlord may offer you somewhere else if you have been a good tenant.

You will be more likely to find a property if you are open to different areas and different types of properties.

Rent is expensive in Chelmsford, so you may be able to find somewhere you can afford in the wider Essex area.

You can look online for properties to rent, using:

You can also:

  • go and speak to letting agents on the high street
  • look in local newspapers and magazines, or on community noticeboards for rooms or properties to rent

If you're able to, you need to get a reference from your current or previous landlord.

The reference will say if you were a good tenant, and may also include the reason why you need to leave the current property. For example, if your landlord is evicting you because they are selling the property, your reference will show that the eviction is not your fault.

You will be able to show this reference to a potential landlord to secure a tenancy.

If you paid your rent on time, you need to ask your landlord for a record. This will show potential landlords that you were a good tenant.

You may be able to claim Universal Credit or Housing Benefit to help pay your rent. The majority of working age claimants will need to apply for Universal Credit.

The amount of help you get towards your rent, either through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, will not necessarily be the same as your rent. 

There is a maximum allowance based on your needs and where you live, and you will not be able to claim more than this.

This allowance is called the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

The LHA looks at how many bedrooms your household needs, as well as where you live. The LHA varies in different parts of Essex, as the average amount of rent you need to pay varies in different areas.

You can use a calculator to find out how many bedrooms your household needs. Once you have worked out your bedroom need, you can enter a location. This will tell you what the LHA is in that area.

You can also look at our LHA rate.

When you know what the LHA is, you can use it as a guide when you look for properties. You need to try and find a property with rent that is close to or below the LHA rate.

The LHA is a general amount and only a guide. You may not be able to claim the full amount, as Housing Benefit also looks at your circumstances, including your income.

You can use the benefits calculator and enter your details, including your income, to get an estimate on how much Housing Benefit you could receive.

Finding a room

If you are a single working person on a low income, you can claim some Housing Benefit to help with your rent.

However, rather than trying to find a self-contained property, finding a room to rent in a house share may be the best option for you.

You can search for rooms on SpareRoom.

Becoming a property guardian

You may be able to find somewhere to live for well below market rate by becoming a property guardian.

People who own empty and unused buildings, such as office blocks or schools, can sign up to a property guardian company. The property guardian company then finds property guardians to live in the buildings. By having guardians in their buildings, owners know that it will stay secure and in good condition.

If you become a property guardian, you will not have the same rights as a tenant living in a privately rented property. You need to check that you are happy with the terms before you agree to become a property guardian.

You can only become a property guardian if you have full-time work.

Property guardian companies

There are a number of property guardian companies that have available properties across the UK.

You can look at:

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Last updated: 29 November 2022