Who Can Claim Housing Benefit?
You can claim Housing Benefit if you’re on a low income and pay rent on a property to a private landlord or housing association, as long as you fall into one of the following categories:
- You and your partner are of pension age
- You are working age and living in Supported Accommodation
- You are working age and living in Temporary Accommodation under the Homeless Person Act
If you don’t fall into one of the categories above you need to apply for Universal Credit for help with housing costs.
You can check your eligibility through the Benefits Calculator. When making a claim for Housing Benefit, you can also apply for Council Tax Support.
How can I claim?
You can make a claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support through this online form. If you can’t provide all of the evidence with the application form, send the completed form in straight away. Then make sure you provide the evidence we ask for within four weeks.
In most cases, Housing Benefit will be paid from the Monday after the claim form is received. However, Housing Benefit can be backdated depending on your circumstances. To qualify for backdating, you’d have to fall into one of the following categories:
- You are of pensionable age (up to three months available)
- you are working age and can provide a good reason why you didn’t apply earlier (up to one month available)
You can request to backdate your claim through the online form (link to housing benefit form) when you apply for Housing Benefit or, if you’ve already applied, you can write to us up to one month from the date on the benefit decision notice.
How much benefit you receive
Your housing benefit entitlement is means tested based on your circumstances. What you receive will depend on your income, savings, household, the total amount your family currently receives in benefits, and the amount of bedrooms your family needs.
Social Sector Size Restrictions
Based upon your household, you could be restricted to the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to. If you have more bedrooms in your household than you need under these rules you will be classed as “under-occupying” the property and a percentage reduction will be applied to your eligible rent.
The rules allow one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any two children aged under 10
- Any other child
The amount of the percentage reduction depends on how many extra bedrooms you have:
- 14% if you have one extra bedroom
- 25% if you have two or more extra bedrooms
Please note the social sector restrictions only apply to working age claimants renting from housing associations. These rules do not apply if you are of pension age. If you are working age and renting from a private landlord please refer to the Local Housing Allowance Page.
The Government announced a “cap “on total benefits received for working age households. This could reduce the amount of Housing benefit you receive.
Housing Benefit renewal
You don’t have to renew your Housing Benefit claim as this will continue to be paid for as long as you’re entitled to it. However, changes in circumstances can affect the amount of Housing Benefit you get so you need to inform us of any changes straight away.
Examples of changes in circumstances include:
- Changes in employment or income (wages, working tax credits, work pension or state benefit)
- Somebody has moved in or out of your home
- You have moved house or your rent changes
- Other adults who live in the household have circumstances that have changed
- You or someone in your household has gone into hospital
We may contact you to conduct an in-claim review. This will ensure you’re getting the right amount of benefit you’re entitled to and that we base it upon up-to-date information of your circumstances.
Tell us immediately of a change
If you don’t notify us of a change in circumstances, you could be paid the wrong amount of Housing Benefit. If the change resulted in you being entitled to more Housing Benefit, you may not be able to backdate your claim and you could lose out.
If the change resulted in you being entitled to less Housing Benefit, you could have been overpaid and this will need to be repaid.
Changes in circumstances could also affect other benefits too., so it’s really important that you let us know.
Housing Benefit appeals
If you disagree with our Housing Benefit entitlement decision, you can challenge it by submitting an Application for Housing Benefit appeal, within one month of the date of the original decision.Understanding our decision and making an appeal
It is important you check the information on your benefit decision notice to make sure that you agree with the income, savings, and, where appropriate, the amount of rent which has been used in the calculation. However, the amount of rent that has been used in the calculation will not necessarily be the full amount of rent you have to pay.
You can ask us to explain to you in writing exactly how your entitlement was calculated before you decide whether to appeal.
If, after this initial appeal, you’re still unhappy with your benefit entitlement and you’d like us to look at your claim again, you should make your request in writing to be received at this office within one calendar month of the date on the decision notice. Appeals made more than one month after your notification of benefit entitlement should explain the delay in making an appeal.
Your claim will be looked at by a different member of staff and a full explanation given. If you are still unhappy with the decision, you can ask for your appeal to be sent to the Independent Appeals Tribunal service.
COVID-19 and Housing Benefit
If you have experienced financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and are on a low income, you could be eligible for Housing Benefit to help cover the cost of your rent providing you fall into one of the categories listed at the top of this page. If you don’t fall into one of the categories, you should check your eligibility for Universal Credit. For more information about COVID-19 and housing benefit visit this page.