Housing Benefit is a benefit that helps with the cost of rent if you have a low income. It's administered by your local authority.
It can be paid whether you're in council or private housing, and you can claim it whether you're in or out of work.
Find out more about eligibility for Housing Benefit, how to claim or appeal a decision, and what you'll get on GOV.UK: Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit doesn't help with mortgages. If you're a homeowner, the only benefits that assist with mortgage costs are Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, and Pension Credit.
Housing Benefit can help with housing costs such as:
- fees for lodgings
- some service charges
- mooring charges/berthing fees for a houseboat
- site rental for a caravan or mobile home
- almshouse contributions
Eligibility for Housing Benefit
You won't be eligible for Housing Benefit if your income or capital (such as savings, shares or property) are above set limits. However, there's an exception to these rules: if you get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, you'll receive the maximum amount of Housing Benefit for which you are eligible, even if you have savings above the capital limits.
For more information, see Housing Benefit: What you'll get on GOV.UK.
If your income is very low or you're on certain benefits, you'll get the maximum Housing Benefit to which you are entitled. You'll get less than the maximum Housing Benefit if your income is higher.
Even if you get maximum Housing Benefit, your rent may not be paid in total because there may be items in your rent that are "ineligible" and Housing Benefit can't be paid for them.
Also, if you live in a property that's been assessed as too large for your needs, you won't receive the full amount. If you rent in the private sector, your benefit may be calculated under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules.
You can claim Housing Benefit at any age, but the amount of benefit you receive can depend on how old you are. How much Housing Benefit you get will also be affected by your income and capital, and whether you're claiming as a single person, for you and your family, or as part of a couple. You may receive higher levels of benefit if you're disabled or you're a carer.
LHA for private tenants
If you rent in the private sector, the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can get is decided under the LHA rules.
The amount of LHA you get depends on the area where you live and the number of people who live in your home, although the maximum rate is for four-bedroom properties.
The maximum benefit you can get is decided by allocating one bedroom in a property for:
- every adult couple
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any two children aged under 10 regardless of sex
- any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
- any other child
LHA is worked out by looking at the highest and lowest reasonable rents for an area, provided that the accommodation is in a reasonable state of repair. From this, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) works out the lowest third of reasonable rents in the area.
Allowances are calculated monthly and are made public so that you know in advance the amount of Housing Benefit you'll be paid. You can find the latest LHA rates on your local authority's website or on the VOA website.
If you're single, under 35 and sharing accommodation (for example, you have your own bedroom, but share a kitchen, bathroom and living space), you will get a "shared rate".
How long does LHA last?
The allowance is set from the day that you apply for LHA. This will then apply for 12 months, unless you have a change of circumstances (for example, if more people move in with you). At the end of the year, the decision is looked at again and you don't have to make a new claim for LHA.
How LHA is paid
Payments will usually be made directly into your bank or building society account.
However, payment can be made directly to your landlord if you're a "vulnerable" person and are:
- unable to manage your money
- unlikely to pay
- have more than eight weeks' rent arrears
If LHA doesn't yet apply to you, there may be other restrictions on your maximum rent for Housing Benefit. If you change address and move into accommodation rented from a private landlord, you'll be moved on to LHA at this point.
If you are struggling to meet your housing costs, your local authority may be able to help with a "discretionary housing payment", which could help with a rent deposit if you needed to move accommodation.
Read more about claiming income-related benefits.
The official online government source of information on benefits is GOV.UK.
Article provided by NHS Choices