How to Find Help with Move-In Fees (Security Deposits, Pet Fees, Utility Deposits, Application Fees)


Art: Robin Mead

Home Modifications

🌸 If you need modifications to make your new place more disability accessible, some organizations offer free home modifications, such as wheelchair ramps, widening door ways, remodeling bathrooms, or making a home more energy efficient. You may be eligible even if you are a renter. Check out: How to Get Home Modifications

State ID and Birth Certificate 

🌸 For most affordable housing programs, you will need to show ID. In some areas there are programs that can assist with fees for obtaining documents. Contact your local United Way or dial 2-1-1 on your phone to inquire. Here’s examples in Texas and Colorado.

Utility Deposits

🌸 Contact the utility company to inquire if they have any programs to assist people who are low income with deposits. For ongoing help with utilities, also take a look at this page: How to Be Poor in America

🌸 Also see section on security deposits below. Some of the programs there may also be able to help with utility deposits.

Pet Fees & Pet Deposits

🌸 If you are disabled and have a service animal or emotional support animal, pet fees and pet deposits may be waived. This law applies to many (but not all) landlords. In addition: In some situations, assistance animal expenses are considered medical expenses and may lower how much rent you pay. Sample letters for request that pet fees be removed are available here: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters (Assistance Animals)

Security Deposits & Moving Fees

🌸 If you have a voucher or live in HUD housing, start by asking your housing worker.

🌸 Try Googling: “Security deposit” “homeless” and the name of your city, county or state. Even if you are not currently homeless, this search is a good way to find what is available.

🌸 Some landlords will allow you to pay the security deposit in installments. Certain types of housing programs for homeless, elderly or disabled will be more flexible with deposits or will not charge deposits.

🌸 Try contacting all religious groups in your area. Even if you are not the right religion (for example, if you are Jewish, don’t be shy to call a Christian church.)  Ask if they have any volunteers that can help you with physically packing and moving, or if they know any other groups that have this service.

🌸 Local religious groups also sometimes offer assistance with deposits. Some of our readers report success from Catholic Charities and with Jewish services programs.

🌸 Some areas have programs that can help with security deposits, application fees and moving fees. Call as many places as you can and ask what is available in your area:

🌸 Examples of programs:

Crime Victims

🌸 If you are needing to move because you have been the victim of a crime, you can check to see if your state has any financial support that can be used for moving or other expenses. Crime victim compensation.

Application Fees

🌸 Private landlords may charge a fee. Most subsidized or affordable housing programs will not charge any fee.

🌸 Please be careful about scams. How to spot rental scams.

Furniture and Appliances

🌸 Sometimes local agencies give out vouchers for free furniture. Ask at your local Social Services department, Salvation Army, St Vincents, and any of the groups listed above.

🌸 Check out trashnothing and freecycle for free furniture.

🌸 Checkout craigslist and Facebook marketplace for low-cost furniture. Sometimes the if the person selling is nice they will be willing to deliver (especially if you explain you are disabled and cannot pick up)

Moving Out of a Nursing Home or Facility

🌸 Many states have funds available to help people transition out of a facility and back into their own home. This can cover deposits, movers, first month’s rent, utilities, and many other things. These programs will also provide you with home aides and other services in your home.

🌸 Check with your local Area Agency on Aging (even if you are young). Also check this list of How to Find Medicaid Waiver Programs in Your State

Avoiding Needing a Nursing Home

🌸 If you are not in a nursing home, but you are at risk for going into one, you may still be able to apply for the funds mentioned above. If you are in a medicaid home aide program, ask your caseworker and research on your own to see if there are programs or funds available for transitioning out of nursing homes. You may be able to apply even if you have never been in a nursing home.

🌸 Here’s an example of this kind of program in New York: Moving Assistance Program

Special Notes for People on Housing Vouchers or Section 8

🌸 If you are moving into Section 8 housing, although your rent will be discounted, most landlords will still require a full rental deposit.

🌸 For vouchers, ideally do not pay any money until after the apartment has passed a Section 8 inspection. If you absolutely cannot convince any landlord to wait that long, some people ask the landlord to sign a letter stating that the security deposit will be returned and the lease will be cancelled if the apartment does not pass inspection.

🌸 For vouchers: You cannot pay first months rent until the apartment has passed inspection and the housing authority has notified you how much your share or rent will be. You pay only your share, not the full rent.

“Am I Homeless?” 

Many assistance programs are restricted to people who are “homeless” or “at-risk for homelessness.” You do not need to be sleeping on the street to be considered at risk for homelessness. If you are in one of these situations, it is worth contacting a program and inquiring if you will qualify:

🌸 You are sleeping on a friend’s couch and the friend is asking you to leave

🌸 You have a recent unexpected expense and can’t afford your rent (for example: a medical emergency)

🌸 You’ve had a change in your income and can no longer afford your rent (and you are trying to move somewhere less expensive)

🌸 You have an eviction or foreclosure notice

🌸 You are in a domestic violence situation or being threatened in your current housing

🌸 You have a medical or safety reason for needing to move (for example, your current housing has mold, is not disability accessible, is too far away to access needed medical treatment, has no way to access caregivers or food, etc). It will help if you have a letter from a doctor or case manager verifying your health or safety reason.

🌸 You are staying in a motel or temporary housing but cannot continue to do so

🌸 You have a letter from your landlord that your rent is increasing or that they will not renew your lease

Learn More

🌸 Section 8 Guide for the Disabled and Plucky

🌸 How to Be Poor in America

🌸 How to Apply for Affordable Housing (And every little thing that happens along the way)

🌸 Updated July 2018. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

🌸 If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

7 thoughts on “How to Find Help with Move-In Fees (Security Deposits, Pet Fees, Utility Deposits, Application Fees)”

  1. I live in a senior housing complex where a few months ago a resident hit my car which was parked in the lot. He was arrested on the spot for a DUI and other offences. The property manager has evicted him. He is angry with me because the manager based the eviction notice on complaints he thinks I filed. The manger has told other residents to have me file a statement to assist in the eviction notice. I want nothing to do with this and I believe it’s not my responsibility. I reported the incident to the rental office they said that wasn’t sufficient!


  2. Moving is always a challenge 🙂 But definitely worth the effort. Recently, I helped to move my friend to a suburb of New York City from downtown. My friend was madly happy to move, because the proximity of nature and the lack of noise made his life better and more peaceful. Did anybody have such experience?


  3. My name is keisha Thurman. I have been evicted from my apartment on August 17. My family is now living in hotel and I have a house that willing to my voucher. I am seeking help for my security deposit.


      1. I have to move out i have a section 8 voucher but i do not have the funds for a deposit to move into a house or apartment anyone thats willing to help please im in need im a single parent of 4 and i raise my grandbaby please help so it s family of 5 im in desperate need and loosing help cant help but voucher helps but with out a deposit or fees for applications i do not have what could i do or how to get help


        1. Have you tried calling religious organizations such as catholic charities for financial help. Don’t take no for an answer just keep bugging until you get the help you need. I’m on similar situation right now. My APT BLDG had a fire. I’m getting a lot of run around…


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