Housing Benefit 2022: how to get help with rent

8 December 2022 by Robin - 9 minutes of reading time

Housing Benefit

What is Housing Benefit? How can I claim Housing Benefit? Am I eligible? Housing Benefit is a benefit you may receive to help pay for your rent. Indeed, this is for those who are unemployed, claiming benefits or on a low income. There is no set amount that you can receive, as how much you are entitled to is specific to your situation. However, it may help to cover some or all of your rent. This Your Benefits article will tell you all you need to know.

Housing Benefit eligibility: can I get it?

Housing Benefit eligibility: can I get it?

Housing Benefit is an aid for those who have trouble paying for their rent. More specifically, for those who are on a low income, unemployed or claiming benefits. Additionally, you may only apply for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies:

  • You are currently in sheltered, temporary or supported housing;
  • You reached State Pension age.

If you have reached state pension age and are single, you can make a new claim for housing benefit. If you have a partner, some things need to apply:

  • Both you and your partner are State Pension age or older;
  • You are currently in sheltered, temporary or supported housing;
  • Only you or your partner has reached State Pension age, and the other began claiming Pension Credit (for both of you) starting prior to 15 May 2019.

You may be over State Pension age and already be claiming this benefit. If this is the case, your existing claim may not be impacted. Indeed, this is the case if one of the following was true for you prior to 15 May 2019, you:

  • Already reached State Pension age;
  • Were receiving Housing Benefit.

Your partner may be under State Pension age. However, this does not affect your eligibility. 

You may receive Housing Benefit and experience a change in circumstances. Indeed, if this is the case, you must report the changes as soon as possible. Otherwise, your payments could be reduced, or even stop.

Finally, note that how much Housing Benefit you may receive is limited by your benefit cap. Indeed, the benefit cap applies for people between 16 years old and State Pension age. Furthermore, if your Housing Benefit payments go beyond your benefit cap, your payments will be reduced.

Can I apply for Housing Benefit if I am in sheltered, temporary or supported housing?

You if you are in sheltered, temporary or supported housing, you may be able to make a new claim. Indeed, this is the case if:

  • The supported or sheltered housing that you live in (for example, a hostel) gives you ‘care, support or supervision’;
  • Your living situation is currently a refuge specifically dedicated for survivors of domestic abuse;
  • You reside in temporary accommodation that was provided by your local council (like B&B).

You may live in sheltered or supported housing but not receive ‘care, support or supervision’. In this case, you can claim Universal Credit to help with housing costs. In either case, if you are in temporary, sheltered or supported housing but are not eligible, you can apply for Universal Credit.

Am I not eligible to apply?

You may not be eligible to apply for Housing Benefit. Indeed, this is likely the case if one of the following applies to your situation, you:

  • Are a Crown Tenant;
  • Are State Pension age or older, but your partner is not (not that this does not apply if you claimed Housing Benefit as a couple prior to 15 May 2019);
  • Currently are subject to immigration control, as well as your granted leave stating that you are ineligible to claim public funds;
  • Are sponsored to reside in the UK, or are an asylum seeker;
  • Are a European Economic Area (EEA) jobseeker and live in the United Kingdom;
  • Study as a full-time student;
  • Currently live with a partner that already claims Housing Benefit;
  • Already receive Universal Credit (this is unless you live in a supported or temporary housing);
  • Reside in the house belonging to a close relative;
  • Pay the mortgage for a home belonging to you (then, you may be eligible for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) instead);
  • Have savings superior to £16,000 (this is unless you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit)
This benefit is being replaced with Universal Credit. As such, if you are not eligible to make a new claim, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

How much Housing Benefit can I get?

How much Housing Benefit you can get depends on your situation. You may receive help with some or all of your rent. Indeed, the amount you will receive is not set. Instead, it depends on whether you rent from a council or privately. More specifically, on the following:

  • Your situation, which may include anyone with a disability in your home, or the age of the people living with you;
  • The income of your household (this includes savings, pensions and benefits that you receive over £6,000);
  • Any spare rooms that you have;
  • Your ‘eligible’ rent
What is considered eligible rent? It is your rent, plus service charges. Indeed, not that this includes things such as charges for communal laundry or lift maintenance. However, it does not include costs like for the water or heating of your housing.

You may live in social or council housing and have spare bedrooms. In this case, you could receive less Housing Benefit. If you have one spare bedroom, you could receive 14% less of the ‘eligible rent’. If you have two spare bedrooms or more, you could receive 25% less of your ‘eligible rent’.

'Eligible' rent calculation if you have a spare bedroom
Condition Amount
Eligible rent £130 weekly
Number of spare bedrooms 1
Percentage by which your eligible rent is reduced 14%
Total actual eligible rent 130 * (1-.14) = £111,8 weekly

How you are paid Housing Benefit depends on how you pay your rent, or what kind of tenant you are:

  • For council tenants, payments are made directly into the account that receives your rent (you will not get payments)
  • Housing association and private tenants receive payments directly into their building society or bank accounts

What if I rent privately?

You may rent privately. Indeed, if this is the case, your eligible rent can be one of two things: your actual rent, or your Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, whichever is lower out of the two. Indeed, your LHA is based on a couple of things. First, on where your home is located. Second, on the size of your home, and the rooms in your house. 

How much Housing Benefit you can get then depends on a couple other things. First, on your household income. This includes savings, pensions and benefit over £6,000. Second, on your circumstances. Indeed, this can include how old you are, or whether or not you have a disability.

You may be in a different living situation. Indeed, you may be in a hostel, caravan site, mooring, houseboat, room where the rent includes meals or a Rent Act protected property. Then, contact your Local Council in order to apply for Housing Benefit.

You may have been receiving Housing Benefit since prior to 7 April 2008. If this is the case, these limits apply to you only if you experience a break in your Housing Benefit claim, or change address.

What if I have a spare or shared room?

How to apply for Housing Benefit?

When it comes to bedrooms, certain people are expected to shared bedroom. Indeed, this is true for adult couples, 2 children younger than 16 years old and of the same sex, and 2 children older than 16 years old, whether they are of the same sex or not.

Some people are allowed to have their own room. More specifically, the following:

  • Single adults, or individuals older than 16 years old;
  • An overnight carer, who takes care of you, your partner, another adult or your child (note that the carer cannot live with you, this applies only if they sometimes need to stay overnight);
  • Children or a couple unable to share a room, because of a medical condition or disability;
  • A child that should share a room, but cannot because all of the shared rooms are already occupied.

Furthermore, a spare bedroom may be used by an approved foster carer who is currently between placement. Then, the spare bedroom is allowed for up to 52 weeks following the end of their latest placement. If they are a new foster carer, the spare room is authorized for up to 52 weeks following their approval. This is if no child is assigned to them during this time. 

Lastly, your spare bedroom may be used by a student, or a member of the reserve or armed forces. Then, if said person is planning on coming back, the room is not considered as ‘spare’.

How to apply for Housing Benefit?

If you are eligible, you can apply for Housing Benefit. Indeed, you may do so either via your local council, or through your Pension Credit claim. If you want to apply via your local council, simply call them and inform them that you would like to receive this benefit. 

If you apply via your Pension Credit application, you may then do it one of two ways. First, you can apply for Pension Credit online through the Gov.UK website. Second, you can claim by contacting the Pension Service.

If you chose to call the Pension Service, they will communicate information about your claim to your local council. Indeed, this is so you can then claim Housing Benefit. You may call them on 0800 99 1234 or text them on 0800 169 0133. They are available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

You can claim this benefit in advance. Indeed, if you are moving and know you will be eligible, you can claim the benefit for up to 13 weeks in advance. However, this is 17 weeks if you are 60 years or older. However, you will not receive money before moving.

Additionally, you may be able to backdate your claim. Indeed, contact your local council for more information. Lastly, you could receive additional help with housing costs. Indeed, this might include things like Cold Weather Payment or Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

If you are unsure of what benefit you could claim, Your Benefits can help. Indeed, we provide a free simulator that can show you all the aid you are entitled to. Indeed, you may be missing out on some financial aid. And again, this service is completely free!

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

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