Anyone with a low income who pays rent to a housing association or private landlord can claim Housing Benefit, no matter if you are in work or not.
Only the tenant, the tenant's partner or official appointee can claim Housing Benefit. A landlord cannot claim for them.
Benefits information leaflet new for 2016 to 2017
Benefits information (PDF/13.5MB/24 pages) contains all the new rates for 2016 to 17 including the Local Housing Allowance rates, non dependant deduction amounts and applicable amount tables
How to claim
You will be able to claim for Housing Benefit when you make your telephone claim with Jobcentre Plus if you are also claiming for:
- Income Support
- Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
They will send us your completed claim and confirm the benefit you are receiving.
If you are claiming Pension Credit you will be able to claim Housing Benefit during your telephone claim with the Pension Disability and Carers Service.
They will send us your claim and confirm you are in receipt of Pension Credit.
If the above does not apply to you, and you think you are entitled to Housing Benefit, you should contact us for an application form and return it with all the relevant documentation.
You can also use our benefits calculator to apply for Housing Benefit.
What rent figure will be used to work out my entitlement?
The figure will depend on your tenancy type and what the rent charge includes.
Privately rented tenancies
The amount of Housing Benefit we pay will depend on if your contractual rent has been referred to the Valuation Office Agency for a rental determination or whether a local housing allowance rate applies.
A Valuation Office Agency determination will apply if :
- you claimed Housing Benefit before April 7 2008 and have continued to receive it at the same address without a break in your claim
- you live in a caravan, mobile home, houseboat or board and lodging property where a significant part of the rental charge is for food
A Local Housing Allowance rate will apply in all other cases except where:
- you rent from a registered social landlord (housing association)
- your tenancy is a regulated one
Valuation Office Agency determinations
We are obliged by law to use the rental figure provided by the Valuation Office Agency when calculating Housing Benefit. This is called the maximum rent figure.
This will include some services included in the rent, for example water rates, electricity, gas and personal care. Housing Benefit cannot be paid for these.
This means Housing Benefit may not cover your full rent and you should pay any extra to your landlord.
The valuation is usually set for 52 weeks and a new valuation is obtained every year.
Local Housing Allowance scheme
Local Housing Allowance rates are decided by the Rent Service and are valid for 12 months from April to March.
Housing Benefit will be paid directly to the tenant rather than the landlord or agent.
Payments will be made directly into bank accounts. If you do not already have a bank account, now might be the right time to open one.
Housing association tenancies
In most cases Housing Benefit is calculated using your rent charge minus any services.
Service charges for communal areas can usually be covered.
If your rent is unreasonably high or the property is too large for your household's needs then Housing Benefit is not paid for rent free weeks.
Regulated rent tenancies
Regulated rents are tenancies that started before 15 January 1989. Housing Benefit is usually calculated based on the rent charge minus any services.
The registered rent is binding for a minimum of two years and the landlord cannot charge a higher rent. Housing Benefit is calculated based on the registered rent figure.
How much Housing Benefit will I receive?
The amount of Housing Benefit that will actually be paid will depend on:
- your income (joint income if you have a partner)
- your capital (joint capital if you have a partner) but only if you have capital over £6,000 if you are of working age, or have over £10,000 if you are a pensioner
- your personal and family circumstances (for example, whether you are disabled and whether you have children)
- the income and circumstances of anyone who lives with you
You will normally get the maximum benefit if:
- you get income support
- Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
- employment and support allowance (income related)
- guaranteed pension credit
This will be calculated based on the maximum rent figure less deductions for non-dependants (people living in your house who are not dependent on you and are expected to contribute to the housing costs).