What housing benefit is

Housing benefit helps you pay part or all of your rent if you're on a low income.

With some exceptions, housing benefit has been replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit.

For many people, Universal Credit covers housing costs, so you don't have to make a separate housing benefit claim. 

Working age people can apply for housing benefit, in very limited circumstances. Before you apply, make sure that you can claim housing benefit, and you don't need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Who can get housing benefit

You can apply for housing benefit if you're in one of the following groups:

  • you live in a refuge, hostel or supported accommodation
  • you and your partner are old enough to get state pension

Check if you're eligible to claim Housing Benefit

Before you apply, use our benefits calculator to check you're entitled to claim housing benefit.

Who cannot claim housing benefit

Usually, you won't get housing benefit if:

  • you rent your home from a close relative who lives in the same house
  • you own the property you're claiming benefit for, or have a mortgage on that property
  • you and your partner have joint savings or investments of more than £16,000
  • you're a foreign national subject to immigration control
  • you're getting or are eligible to claim Universal Credit
Apply for housing benefit

You and your partner must provide proof of identification, such as a passport or drivers licence.

You may also need to send us other supporting evidence. After you've submitted the online form, we'll contact you if we need more information. 

You can send us evidence after you submit your claim. 

Before you apply, make sure that you can claim housing benefit, and you don't need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Apply for housing benefit

If you've started a claim and have your citizen access key code, you can continue filling in the online form.

How we make a decision about your claim

How long we take to process your claim

We'll contact you within 21 working days to tell you if you're entitled to housing benefit.

We'll send you a benefit decision letter by post or email when your claim has been decided. 

How much you get depends on:

  • your household income, including benefits and pensions
  • savings and investments over £6,000 for those of working age and over £10,000 for those old enough to get state pension
  • your circumstances, for example the age of people in the house, or if someone has a disability

If you're a council or housing association tenant how much you get also depends on:

  • your eligible rent, which is the maximum amount of rent your housing benefit can cover, can be less than your actual rent and cannot cover service charges, such as water rates
  • the number of spare bedrooms you have if you're under pension age

If you rent from a private landlord, how much you get depends on the Local Housing Allowance. The amount of Local Housing Allowance may be lower than your actual rent. 

How we pay your housing benefit

Council tenants

If you're a council tenant, we'll pay your benefit direct to your rent account.

Housing association tenants

Usually, we'll pay your benefit direct to your landlord every four weeks in arrears. 

If you've asked us to, we can pay your benefit direct to your bank account every two weeks in arrears. This means the two weeks that have just passed.

Private tenants

If youre a private tenant, we pay housing benefit directly into your bank account every two weeks in arrears. The date we pay you might be different to the date your rent is due. 

Its your responsibility to manage your finances and pay your landlord.

Payments direct to landlords

Sometimes we'll pay your benefit direct to the landlord.  Examples of when we do this include if you're:

  • more than eight weeks behind with your rent
  • having or have had problems paying your rent 
Claim backdated benefit

If you're older than state pension age

If you're older than state pension age, well automatically backdate your claim by up to three months if you qualify based on your circumstances at the time: 

  • if you were of pension age throughout or within the three months
  • you reached pension age within the three months

If you're under state pension age

If you're under pension age, benefit is usually awarded from the Monday following the date you applied. You must let us know if you want your claim to be backdated when you fill in the form.

We can sometimes backdate your claim for up to one month from the date we get your written request for backdating. You'll need to tell us why you didn't make your claim earlier. For example, you were seriously ill and nobody could make your claim for you.

We may ask you to provide extra information about your reasons for not claiming sooner.

Other help you may be entitled to

Council tax reduction

If you don't pay rent, but your name appears on the council tax bill you may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction.

Extra help towards your rent

You may be able to apply for a short-term Discretionary Housing Payments if you've been awarded housing benefit or Universal Credit and need help with paying your full eligible rent.