You can claim housing benefit if you are working and have a low income or if you receive benefits. You can either claim direct from the council or when making a new claim for other benefits.
How to claim housing benefit from the council
Get a housing benefit claim form from your council by phone, in person or online. You must return the completed housing benefit claim form within a month.
Check your council's website for details on making a claim online.
Download a claim form from Gov.uk to complete and take to your council.
How to claim housing benefit with other benefits
You can also put in a claim for housing benefit when you make a new claim for:
- income support
- income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
- income-related employment support allowance (ESA)
- pension credit
Who can make a claim
You or your partner can make a claim for housing benefit.
It doesn't matter if the tenancy is in your partner's name. Either of you can claim.
How to complete a housing benefit form
Give as much information as possible. Answer every question or the council may send the claim form back.
Be honest when you complete your form. If you withhold information or lie you could be paid too much housing benefit and have to repay it. You could be prosecuted.
Read Shelter's factsheet Do's and Don'ts of applying for benefits for more information on making benefit claim.
Evidence to support your housing benefit claim
The housing benefit claim form lists the evidence that you must provide.
Return the form to the council even if you're waiting for evidence. You have one month to submit everything.
Use Shelter's housing benefit claim checklist to find out more about the evidence you need.
The council could decide you are not entitled to any housing benefit if it does not receive all the information it needs within one month. Tell the council if you have problems collecting evidence.
Where to send the form
The claim form should go to your local council's housing benefit office. If you got the form from your council, the address should be on the form.
If you are claiming other benefits at the same time, JobCentre Plus or the Pension Service will send your claim form to your council.
Get a receipt
Unless you are claiming other benefits at the same time it's safest to deliver a housing benefit claim form to the council in person.
Get a receipt for the form and any evidence you hand in. Ask for your documents to be photocopied so you can keep the originals.
Someone can go for you if you can't attend.
Keep your receipt safe. If the council loses your form, the receipt is evidence of the start date of your claim.
If you claim online you should be emailed an acknowledgement saying your form has been received. Do not delete this.
Posting the claim form
Letters can get lost or delayed in the post. You may have to include your original documents which can be expensive to replace if lost.
To help protect your documents, it's best to send the form by recorded delivery or ask the post office for a certificate or proof of posting.
The date you are paid from
Make your housing benefit claim as soon as possible.
Housing benefit is usually paid from the Monday after:
- you tell the council you want to claim, not the date the council gets your form
- your entitlement to income support, JSA, ESA or pension credit begins
If you make your claim as soon as you move in, you can normally get housing benefit from the date your tenancy starts.
You may also be able to claim backdated housing benefit for a limited period.
If you or your partner are of pension age your claim can be backdated for three months or to when your tenancy started, whichever is the most recent. You do not have to ask the council to do this, it should happen automatically.
Find out more about backdating housing benefit.
Claims if you are moving or away
It is sometimes possible to claim:
Get advice if you need help with the form or more information about claiming.
Use Shelter's directory to find a local welfare rights adviser
Sonia's Story: Keeping on top of things will help your claim
After getting divorced, Sonia had to sell her house which made no profit. In order to meet the cost of renting, Sonia had to apply for housing benefit. Read Sonia's full story.