You must claim Universal Credit and not Housing Benefit if you are a single person, without dependant children and you are making a new claim for support with housing costs, where you would previously have claimed Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and in certain cases Income Support. When you are awarded Universal Credit you will no longer be entitled to Housing Benefit. You can check whether you can get Universal Credit by going to www.gov.uk/universalcredit or alternatively you can speak to a Work Coach at the Job Centre.
Help with your housing costs
If you are not getting Universal Credit and you are on a low income, or in receipt of Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment & Support Allowance, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. You do not have to be unemployed or retired to qualify for help - Housing Benefit is available if you rent your home and your financial circumstances allow you to qualify.
Help with your rent
Housing Benefit is available to anyone on a low income who has to pay rent for the property they occupy as their home. It is available as either a rent rebate or as a rent allowance.
- If you pay rent to the Council you may be eligible for a Rent Rebate.
- If you pay rent to a private landlord or to a Housing Association you may qualify for a rent allowance.
- If you have purchased a property under a joint ownership scheme you may be able to claim help with the payments you make for the part of the property that you rent.
Housing Benefit is not available for payments you make under a mortgage agreement - although, if you are in receipt of either Income Based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support, you may be entitled to some help with your mortgage interest from the Department for Work and Pensions.
How is it paid?
If you rent your home from a private landlord or Housing Association, your benefit is normally paid directly to you by BACS every 2 weeks. In some circumstances we may pay benefit directly to your landlord by BACS every 4 weeks. Payments by cheque are not normally available.
If you rent your home from the Council, your benefit is paid directly to your rent account each week.
Who can claim Housing Benefit?
Anyone who has a legally enforceable liability to pay rent in order to occupy their home is eligible to claim Housing Benefit. In general, you will not qualify if:
- You are not resident at the property (except for certain temporary absences)
- You rent a property you previously owned (except in certain, limited circumstances)
- You rent a former joint home from an ex-partner
- You have responsibility for the landlord’s child
- You pay rent to a close relative who lives with you
- You have a mortgage
- Your agreement is not on a commercial basis
- The liability was created to take advantage of the Housing Benefit Scheme
- You have recently come to live in the U.K. from abroad (there are exceptions to this rule)
- You are a full time student (although there are exceptions to this rule)
- You have more than £16,000 in capital (unless you are a pensioner on Pension Credit Guarantee Credit)
How much will I be paid?
For most private tenants the maximum level of benefit payable will be based on the Local Housing Allowance rate for the area and the number of bedrooms you require. The actual rent you pay may be more than this amount. You will be responsible for making up any shortfall between the actual rent charged and the amount of any Housing Benefit paid.
For Council and Housing Association tenants, the maximum level of benefit payable is normally your gross rent minus any ineligible service charges, such as charges for water and fuel. From April 2013 the government introduced an 'under-occupancy' charge for households deemed to have too many bedrooms to meet their needs. Depending on the number of bedrooms you are deemed to under occupy will determine the level of the deduction from your benefit. You will be responsible for making up any shortfall between the actual rent charged and the amount of any Housing Benefit paid.
Changes to Housing Benefit scheme
For more information on changes to Housing Benefit, please go to the Welfare Reform page.
Make a claim online
To make a new claim for Housing Benefit and/ or Council Tax Support online, please see the How to Claim Benefit section.
If you would like to download and print-off one of the benefit forms available on this webpage, you can do so by viewing one of the options below: