If you are on a low income or are claiming benefits, you could be entitled to claim housing benefits to help you pay your rent. You can apply for it whether you are unemployed or working, and it can pay either a part of your rent, or the entire bill.
However, it does not pay for food, heating, water or other bills – you need to check out a benefits calculator for a look at what you could get to help with these expenses.
What is it?
Housing benefit exists to help you with the cost of rent, and can pay for all or part of your accommodation. There is no set amount of housing benefit you can receive, and the upper limit is decided only by the benefits cap. The amount you’ll receive is based on several factors including:
- Your eligible rent
- Your household income (including benefits, pensions and savings)
- If you have a spare room
- Your circumstances (disability, age etc.)
‘Eligible rent’ here means the reasonable rent for a property in your area, and includes maintenance service charges like included waste disposal or elevator maintenance, but not bills like heating.
If your savings are in excess of a certain amount (ordinarily £16,000), then unfortunately you will usually be ineligible for housing benefit. Similarly, you won’t be eligible if you live in the home of a close relative (so no subsidising rent at the parent’s house!) and if you’re a full time student, unless you are disabled or have children.
If you are living with a partner, only one of you may register for housing benefit. In addition to this, if you’re single and under 35, you can only get housing benefit for bedsit accommodation or for a single room in shared accommodation.
The number of spare rooms in your house will reduce the amount of housing benefit you can receive accordingly. On top of this, adult couples will be expected to share a bedroom, or the room will be considered “spare.” Two children under 16 of the same sex will also be expected to share a room, as will two children under the age of 10, regardless of gender.
Single adults over 16 may have their own room without it affecting your housing benefit. Individual rooms can also be occupied by children who would otherwise share but can’t (for example if you have an odd number of children, so one must get their own room), and by children who cannot share due to a medical condition or disability. Lastly, a non-resident overnight carer for you or your partner can be given a room in the house without any effect on your housing benefit – but only if they have to stay over!
Note that rooms occupied by students or members of the armed forces will not count as “spare” while these people are away, so long as they intend to return.
The amount you are entitled to and the system for receiving it changes if you are renting privately instead of from a council, beginning at up to £260 per week for a one-bedroom house and increasing up to £417 per week for a 4+ bedroom house or shared accommodation.
If you are renting from a council, your housing benefit will be paid directly to them, never entering your bank account. If you are renting privately, however, the money goes into your bank account or building society account first, and from there to your landlord.
How to claim
If you’re claiming other benefits already, contact Jobcentre Plus to claim housing benefit alongside Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance. Jobcentre Plus will then send the details of your claim on to your local council.
If you’re claiming Pension Credit, contact the Pension Service to make your housing benefit claim alongside your Pension Credit claim.
If you’re not claiming any other benefits, you can get a housing benefit claim form from your local council, which comes with notes to help fill it in effectively. Easy!
If you have any further questions about housing benefit, call this number and just ask!