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People can claim Housing Benefit, for help with their rent, as long as they are renting their home from either:
- the council, private landlord, letting agent, housing association, or
- they are a sub-tenant or lodger.
People can’t claim Housing Benefit if they:
- rent their home from a close relative who lives in the same house
- own their home or have a mortgage.
People can claim Council Tax Reduction for help with their council tax even if they own their home as long as they or their partner are responsible for paying the bill for their home.
In most cases, if they and any partner have joint savings or investments totalling more than £16,000 they will not be entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction.
If they recently made a claim for Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, then there’s no need for them to make a separate claim for Housing Benefit as the Jobcentre will send us a claim on their behalf. However if they wish to claim help with their council tax they will need to make a separate claim.
They can make a claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction online. The online form will ask only the questions relevant to their circumstances and tell them if they need to provide any further information.
Alternatively, they can call us on 0117 922 2300 about making a claim.
If they are housebound or have mobility issues we may be able to visit them at home and collect the information we need. Call us on 0117 922 2300 to discuss what we can do.
If they'd prefer to print and fill in a form, they can still download a claim form (pdf, 282 KB)(opens new window) and send it into us.
Sometimes we need people to provide us with documents to confirm what they told us when they made their claim.
We promise never to ask you for anything that we already have access to and to only ask people to provide documents when it’s absolutely necessary.
The kind of things we might need to see include:
- Some recent payslips, if someone’s working.
- A tenancy agreement, to confirm what rent they pay.
- Some recent bank statements.
- Evidence of their National Insurance number.
If a tenancy agreement isn’t available we can accept a letter from the landlord of the property. This must be signed by the landlord and include:
- The name of the tenant.
- The date the tenancy started.
- The amount of the rent and how often they have to pay this amount.
- Details of any charges that are included in the rent, such as heating or water.
If we ask people to provide any of information, we’ll explain clearly what we need and confirm this in writing, or they can read more about the evidence we may need online.
Please note that we cannot make a decision or pay any benefit until we have all of the information we’ve asked for.
The quickest way to get the documents to us is to take them to one of our Customer Service Points across the city.
If the person is housebound or has mobility issues that make it difficult for them to get to one of our Customer Service Points we may be able to visit them at home and collect the information we need. People in these circumstances should call us on 0117 922 2300 to discuss what we can do.
We provide an online calculator that your tenant will be able to use to get a pretty accurate estimate of how much benefit they could be entitled to.
The maximum amount that can be paid as Housing Benefit will depend on which Local Housing Allowance rate your tenant falls into. Find out more on our Local Housing Allowance page.
Benefit is usually awarded from the Monday after we receive the application.
In some circumstances, the claim can be paid from an earlier date - up to six months prior to the date it was claimed. This is often referred to as ‘backdating’.
If tenants would like their claim to be paid from an earlier date they’ll need to convince us that there were good reasons why they weren’t able to apply earlier. One of our team will then decide whether we can backdate their benefit and let them know our decision and our reasons for it.
If your tenants are pensioners who’ve never claimed before then the law enables us to automatically backdate their claim by up to three months if they would have been entitled to Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit during that time.
In order for us to do this we may ask them to provide some additional information when they claim.
We'll pay any Housing Benefit direct into your tenant's bank account every fortnight, in arrears. The tenant is then responsible for ensuring that this money is used towards their rent.
If they do not keep up with their rent payments to you, you can apply for any Housing Benefit to be paid direct to your bank account, which is paid every four weeks in arrears. You'll be asked to provide evidence that your tenant is more than eight weeks in arrears with their rent before we will consider paying benefit direct to you.
If we pay your tenant's Housing Benefit directly to you, you can view details about their payments online.
In some circumstances people are not in a position to take care of their own affairs for a short while when they first take on a tenancy. If, after discussion with your tenant, you feel this to be the case you can apply for any claim to be paid direct to you for up to six months from the start of the claim.
If the Housing Benefit is being paid to your tenant you will not be informed when a decision has been made on their claim.
If the Housing Benefit is being paid directly to you as the landlord a letter will be sent to you explaining how much benefit the tenant is entitled to each week. This letter will also tell you the amount of your first payment and the date it is due to be made.
Where payments are made direct to a tenant we are unable to discuss their claims with you unless they have provided explicit consent for us to do so and we have a record of this.
Where payments are made direct to a landlord we can share some information without the tenant’s consent. The information we can discuss with you under these circumstances is:
- Details about payments that have been, or will be, made to you.
- The period a payment or payments relate to.
- Details about any overpayments we ask you to repay.
If the Housing Benefit was paid directly to a tenant the landlord cannot be made responsible for any overpaid amount.
If we have agreed to pay benefit directly to a landlord we'll ask them to sign an undertaking to let us know straight away if they are aware of any changes in the circumstances of their tenants.
If any delay in us finding out about and dealing with a change results in too much benefit being paid we will seek to recover that amount.
Where we feel it is reasonable that the landlord could have been aware of a change that has resulted in an overpayment we can choose to recover that money from them.
For instance, we would reasonably expect you to know if:
- tour tenant had moved out
- other people had moved in or out of the property
- the amount of rent you’re charging has gone up or down.
If in doubt, let us know of any changes you’re aware of that might affect the amount of benefit your tenant receives.
Landlords who receive payments direct on behalf of their tenants can now register to view their account online.
Once registered, landlords are able to see details of the payments they receive including a breakdown of how much of each payment relates to each tenant. They can also report changes using our online form.