What Is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit helps people on a low income to pay their rent. It can pay for some or the whole of your rent. Your income and circumstances will affect the amount of Housing Benefit you can receive. You can’t use Housing Benefit to pay for heating, water, energy, or food; the payment is for your rent only. Read this guide to find out how to claim Housing Benefit. Call the helpline on 0800 055 6688 if you still need help to claim Housing Benefit after reading all the information.
Can I Get Housing Benefit?
There is no fixed payment for Housing Benefit, so the amount you are eligible for depends on your circumstances. Your entitlement could cover all or only part of your total rent costs. To claim Housing Benefit, you must be paying rent, be on a low income or on benefits, and have savings below £16,000. You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you are in any employment or not.
Only one person in a couple can claim Housing Benefit, while if you are single (and under 35) you can only claim for a bedsit or one room if you share accommodation. You cannot get Housing Benefit if you have savings over £16,000, live in a relative’s home, or you are a full-time student, asylum-seeker, or homeowner. There may be exceptions for people with children or a disability.
How Do I Claim Housing Benefit?
Apply for Housing Benefit through your local council, or contact your local Jobcentre Plus to apply when you apply for other benefits. The Jobcentre will forward your Housing Benefit claim to your council. You can apply for this benefit at the same time as Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, or Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you receive Universal Credit, you won’t be eligible for Housing Benefit unless you live in supported housing. You can claim Housing Benefit along with Pension Credit, and the Pension Service will forward the claim to your council. You can apply up to thirteen weeks before moving, or ask your council to backdate your claim for one month.
What Evidence Do I Need for Housing Benefit?
When you make a Housing Benefit claim, you have to provide specific information and evidence to support it. Before you apply for Housing Benefit, make sure you have all of this ready. It will make the application process much easier for you, and you could get the money faster.
First of all, check your tenancy type. Then make sure you know how much rent you pay and what it includes. For example, your rent could include charges for water, gas, electricity, insurance, or building maintenance. You also need to know the details of your landlord or letting agent.
Beyond this, you will have to provide supporting documentation. You will need the following:
- your last five weekly payslips, or last two monthly payslips
- bank statements or building society statements for the last two months
- proof of any other income (investments and shares, ISAs, premium bonds)
- proof of income for any non-dependant adults living with you (such as relatives or friends)
- any two acceptable forms of proof of ID and address (such as a UK driving licence photocard, passport, birth or marriage certificate, permanent residence card, certificate of registration or naturalisation, or a recent utility bill, benefits letter, bank statement, or letter from HMRC)
If you are renting privately, you will need to supply some additional documents. These are your tenancy agreement or rent book, a tenancy confirmation letter from the landlord, and proof of any rent you are already paying. This could be a rent receipt or a bank statement.
Claim Housing Benefit for Council Rent
This information only applies if you are renting council housing or social housing. The amount of Housing Benefit you will get depends on your “eligible” rent, whether you have spare rooms, and your household income. Having a lot of savings could affect your entitlement. It also depends on other circumstances, such as the age of residents or if anyone in the house has a disability.
The “eligible” rent is the reasonable amount for a property in your local area. The household income will include any benefits, pensions, and savings. You may get a reduction in Housing Benefit if you have any spare bedrooms. If you only have one spare room, the deduction would be 14% of the “eligible” rent. It would be 25% of the “eligible” rent for two or more spare rooms.
You can only have a spare room without a Housing Benefit reduction for up to 52 weeks if you are a foster carer. Adult couples, at least two children under 16 of the same sex, and at least two children under 10 of any sex should share a room. A child under 16 can have their own room if there is no other child for them to share with. Single adults and overnight carers can have their own room. Couples can have separate rooms in the case of medical conditions or disabilities.
If a student or member of the armed forces is away, their room does not count as a spare if they intend to return. Contact the Housing Benefit helpline on 0800 055 6688 if the number of people living in the house or the rent changes. This is important because it will affect your entitlement. Your council will pay your Housing Benefit directly into your rent account, not your bank account.
Claim Housing Benefit for Private Rent
Tenants who rent privately get Housing Benefit according to the Local Housing Allowance. The amount depends on location, household size, income, and other circumstances. You can use this form to calculate your bedroom eligibility and Local Housing Allowance rate before you apply. There is a maximum weekly amount which depends on the number of bedrooms in the house.
For one bedroom (or if you live in shared accommodation), you could get up to £260.64 a week. With two bedrooms, it increases so you could get up to £302.33 per week. For 3 bedrooms the entitlement goes up to £354.46 a week, and then up to £417.02 for 4 bedrooms. Depending on your location and income, your Housing Benefit could be anywhere from 0 up to these amounts.
You should contact your local council if you privately rent a different type of home. This includes houseboats, caravans, hostels, boarding homes (where rent is inclusive of meals), and properties protected by the Rent Act. Ignore these limits if you have been claiming Housing Benefit since earlier than 7th April 2008. They only apply if you change address or have a break in the claim.
The council will pay your Housing Benefit directly into your bank account or building society account. You are then responsible for paying your rent to your private landlord. Call 0800 055 6688 for help if there is a problem with your Housing Benefit payment. You should also call to report any changes in circumstances which could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you get.