This is a general overview of housing benefit. Its rules are complex. For specific advice, contact your local council.

Housing benefit (HB) is a regular payment made by councils to help people pay their rent and in some cases, service charges. It does not help with mortgage costs. You can apply if you rent your home from a council or housing association. If you are renting from a private landlord, this is called Local Housing Allowance. You can also claim housing benefit on the rent element if you live in a shared ownership property.

To be eligible for housing benefit 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. 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. It is made up of personal allowances and premiums.

Personal allowances

Your personal allowance depends on your age, whether you are single or have a partner or have children.

Premiums

You can get the following premiums if you meet the conditions of the housing benefit premium.

  • Carer’s premium
  • Disability premium
  • Enhanced disability premium 
  • Disabled child premium
  • Severe disability premium

For housing benefit and local housing allowance you are allowed one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple
  • every adult aged 16 or over
  • any 2 children under age 10, unless it is inappropriate for them to share a room because of disability
  • any 2 children of the same sex aged 10 to 15, unless it is inappropriate for them to share a room because of disability
  • any other child
  • a non-resident carer if you or your partner is a disabled person who needs overnight care

If you have more bedrooms than you are allowed, you may have to pay the difference. 

If you have other adults living with you who are not your partner, called non-dependants, your HB may be reduced as they will be expected to contribute to your rent. HB is paid directly to your council or housing association.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

LHA is housing benefit 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-dependents living with you.

If your LHA is less than your rent, you have to make up the shortfall or seek cheaper accommodation. You can check the maximum LHA rates for your area. LHA will usually be paid to you, not to your landlord.

How do I claim housing benefit or local housing allowance?

You will need to apply to your local council.

If you have a shortfall in your rent and are receiving HB or LHA, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Housing benefit - further information

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Calculate your entitlements online.