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Housing Benefit

This is a general overview of Housing Benefit. The rules are complex.

Contact your local authority for advice (GOV.UK)

Housing Benefit eligibility

Housing Benefit (HB) may help pay your rent if you are on a low income.

You cannot usually make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are under State Pension Age and you will need to apply for help with your rent through Universal Credit.

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you:

  • are over State Pension Age and, if you are part of a couple, you are both over State Pension Age
  • live in specified accommodation which meets your need for care and supervision (contact your local council for advice on this)

Housing Benefit does not help with mortgage costs. You can apply if you rent your home from a council or housing association. You can also claim Housing Benefit on the rent element if you live in a shared ownership property.

If you are renting from a private landlord, help with rent is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

To be eligible for Housing Benefit or LHA you must be the person liable for paying the rent on your home. You must be on a low income or claiming other state benefits. Your savings must be below £16,000, unless you receive Guaranteed Pension Credit. You must have the right to live in the UK.

Housing Benefit depends on your circumstances, including the size of your home and your income, but will never exceed your eligible rent. The amount of rent included in your assessment may be different to the amount you pay. This will depend on:

  • who your landlord is (private landlord, housing association or local council)
  • whether the rent includes any services which are not eligible
  • the number of bedrooms you are assessed as needing

If you are under State Pension age, the maximum rent that can be covered by Housing Benefit is reduced by 14% for 1 spare bedroom and 25% for 2 or more spare bedrooms.

Example: If your rent is £100 per week, the maximum benefit you can get to help with rent is:

  • £86 if you have 1 spare room
  • £75 if you have 2 or more spare rooms.

If you have more bedrooms than you are assessed as needing, you may have to pay the difference.

If you have other adults living with you who are not your partner, called non-dependants, your Housing Benefit may be reduced as they will be expected to contribute to your rent.

Challenging a benefits decision

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Local Housing Allowance is help with rent if you are in private rented accommodation. The amount you get depends on where you live, the number of bedrooms you need, whether you pass the low-income test and whether you have non-dependants living with you.

If your Local Housing Allowance is less than your rent, you must make up the shortfall or seek cheaper accommodation.

Local Housing Allowance will usually be paid to you, not to your landlord.

You will need to apply to your local council (GOV.UK).

If you have a shortfall in your rent and are receiving Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. This is usually for a temporary and may not always meet the difference in your rent.

Discretionary Housing Payment

Last reviewed by Scope on: 06/11/2020

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