Housing Benefit

Overview

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. You make a claim through your local authority.

Eligibility criteria

Housing Benefit being replaced by Universal Credit and you will only be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies:

  • You are receiving the severe disability premium
  • You qualified for the severe disability premium in the last month and you are still eligible
  • You have reached State Pension age
  • You are living in temporary accommodation
  • You are living in sheltered or supported housing (with special facilities, for example alarms or wardens

You will not be entitled to Housing Benefit if

  • Your savings are over £16,000 unless you receive guarantee credit of Pension credit
  • You are paying a mortgage on your own home - see our factsheet Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) (as you may be eligible for SMI)
  • You are living in the home of a close relative
  • You are claiming Universal Credit (unless you’re in temporary or supported housing)
  • Your partner is already claiming Housing Benefit
  • You’re a full-time student (unless you’re disabled)
  • You’re residing in the UK as a European Economic Area jobseeker
  • You’re an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
  • You’re subject to immigration control and your granted leave states that you cannot claim public funds
  • You’re a Crown Tenant

From 15 May 2019 - If you are a couple you will only be eligible to start getting housing benefit if:

  • Both of you have reached state pension age
  • One of you has reached State Pension age and started claiming Housing Benefit or Pension Credit (for you as a couple) before 15 May 2019

If you are in a couple and receiving Housing Benefit you’ll continue to get Housing Benefit after 15 May 2019. However if your entitlement ends for any reason, for example your circumstances change, you will not be allowed to get it again until you (or your partner) are eligible under the new rules.

If you are single, from 15 May 2019, you’ll stop getting Housing Benefit if you start living with a partner who is under State Pension age. You can start getting it again when your partner reaches State Pension age.

How to apply

Applying for Housing Benefit will be different depending on whether you’re also making a new claim for any other benefits. You will also need to provide evidence to support your claim.

Application for Housing Benefit only

Make your application at your local authority, if you are only making a new claim for Housing Benefit (claim even if you are already in receipt of other benefits).

Application for Housing Benefits and other benefits

If you are claiming Housing benefit together with Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance you make your new claim via Jobcentre Plus. Jobcentre Plus will send the details of your claim for Housing Benefit direct to your local authority.

Jobcentre Plus - Telephone: 0800 055 6688 - Textphone: 0800 023 4888 - NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 055 6688 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Pension Credit

To claim Housing Benefit alongside your Pension Credit you should contact the Pension Service. They will send details of your claim direct to your local authority.Telephone: 0800 99 1234 - Textphone: 0800 169 0133 - NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 99 1234 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Universal Credit

You usually cannot get Universal Credit and Housing Benefit at the same time (unless you’re in certain kinds of supported or temporary housing).

You can claim in advance by up to 13 weeks (or 17 weeks if you’re aged 60 or over), for example if you’re moving. You will not usually get any money before you move.

Change in circumstances

It is essential to report a change of circumstances for you and anyone else in your home. Otherwise your claim might be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change of circumstances straight away. For example:

  • Starting or stopping work, education, training or an apprenticeship
  • Any changes to the benefits you or anyone else in your home receives
  • Any changes to your pension, savings, investments or property
  • If you are moving house
  • If your rent is going up or down
  • If you are going abroad for any length of time
  • Going into hospital, a care home or sheltered accommodation
  • If someone is moving into or out of your house (for example your partner, a child or lodger)
  • If you are having a baby
  • If your partner or someone you live with is dying
  • If your child is turning 18

Overpayments

An overpayment of housing benefit can occur if the local authority made a mistake on your claim or you did not tell them about a change in your circumstances. If you are paid too much you may have to repay the money. However you cannot normally be required to repay an overpayment if it was caused by ‘official error’ of which you could not reasonably be expected to have known that you were being overpaid at the time.

If your local authority can recover overpaid housing benefit, they will have discretion about doing so. You may feel that discretion should be considered in your case in situations,for example, where it would impact on your health, if you have ill health, or if you will experience financial hardship. You should approach them to see if they will use their discretion not to recover the overpayment if you feel this applies to you.

If you are asked to repay an overpayment, you should check whether the overpayment is calculated correctly and whether you should have to repay it. You have a right to appeal if you dispute the amount of an overpayment and the decision to recover it. If a housing benefit overpayment has to be repaid, it can be recovered from you, your partner or the person who received it, such as, your landlord.

Housing benefit overpayments are usually recovered by reducing your future housing benefit entitlement. It may be possible to negotiate the amount of the reduction and how quickly the debt is recovered. It is important to evidence (by providing a budget sheet) how the proposed rate of recovery will cause you financial hardship

Further help

To check benefit entitlement Visit www.gov.uk or www.turn2us.org.uk to access their benefit calculators.