Housing Benefit has changed and Council Tax Benefit has been replaced by a local support scheme. For further information please go to the Welfare Reform page and/or the changes to Council Tax Support page.
Help with your housing costs
If you are on a low income, or in receipt of Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support or Employment & Support Allowance, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. You do not have to be unemployed or retired to qualify for help - Housing Benefit is available if you rent your home and your financial circumstances allow you to qualify.
Help with your rent
Housing Benefit is available to anyone on a low income who has to pay rent for the property they occupy as their home. It is available as either a rent rebate or as a rent allowance.
- If you pay rent to the Council you may be eligible for a Rent Rebate.
- If you pay rent to a private landlord or to a Housing Association you may qualify for a rent allowance.
- If you have purchased a property under a joint ownership scheme you may be able to claim help with the payments you make for the part of the property that you rent.
Housing Benefit is not available for payments you make under a mortgage agreement - although, if you are in receipt of either Income Based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support, you may be entitled to some help with your mortgage interest from the Department for Work and Pensions.
How is it paid?
Housing Benefit may be paid in the form of a Rent Allowance (paid to tenants of private landlords) or in the form of a Rent Rebate (paid to council tenants). Rent Allowance is usually paid by BACS to either the claimant (2 weekly in arrears) or the landlord (4 weekly in arrears). Rent Rebate is paid directly to the tenant’s rent account each week. Payments by cheque are not normally available.
Who can claim Housing Benefit?
Anyone who has a legally enforceable liability to pay rent in order to occupy their home is eligible to claim Housing Benefit. In general, you will not qualify if:
- You are not resident at the property (except for certain temporary absences)
- You rent a property you previously owned
- You rent a former joint home from an ex-partner
- You have responsibility for the landlord’s child
- You pay rent to a close relative who lives with you
- You have a mortgage
- Your agreement is not on a commercial basis
- The liability was created to take advantage of the Housing Benefit Scheme
- You have recently come to live in the U.K. from abroad (there are exceptions to this rule)
- You are a full time student (although there are exceptions to this rule)
- You have more than £16,000 in capital (unless you are a pensioner on Pension Credit Guarantee Credit)
For most private tenants the maximum level of benefit payable will be based on the Local Housing Allowance for the area. The actual rent you pay may be more than this amount. You will be responsible for making up any shortfall between the actual rent charged and the amount of any Housing Benefit paid. Your Local Housing Allowance can be paid direct to you your landlord if your landlord agrees to reduce the level of rent charged to the LHA level.
If you would like to download and print-off one of the benefit forms available on this webpage, you can do so by viewing one of the options below:
- Appeals Form
- Benefits Claim Form
- Letter that accompanies the Benefit Claim Form
- Payment of Housing Benefit by BACS form
- Change of Circumstances Form - online form
If you download a benefit form, to help us to assess your entitlement to benefit as quickly as possible, please contact the Benefit Team once you have completed it to make an appointment with a benefit assessor.
Please also see the How to Claim Benefit section