Most young people who rent privately can only get housing benefit to cover the cost of renting in shared accommodation. Different rules apply if you rent from a council or housing association.
Why age is important for housing benefit claims
Housing benefit for private renters is worked out using local housing allowance (LHA) rules.
There are restrictions on how much housing benefit you can claim if you are under the age of 35 and you rent from a private landlord.
The shared accommodation rate
If you are single, under the age of 35 and rent privately, you can usually only get housing benefit at the LHA rate for a single room in a shared house.
The housing benefit you get for living in a shared home is usually less than for a self-contained home.
The shared accommodation rate applies even if you have a place of your own, so you may not get enough to pay the rent.
There are exceptions. Find out if the shared accommodation rate applies to you.
Under 35 and already renting privately
If you are single and you already have a privately rented self-contained place, you can get the local housing allowance (LHA) rate for housing benefit on a one-bedroom home as long as you:
- were able to pay your own rent when you moved into your home
- have not been paid any housing benefit in the past year
You can claim your full rent for the first 13 weeks. After 13 weeks, the maximum you get is the shared accommodation rate.
Find out more about housing benefit if you're under 35.
Housing benefit for a council or housing association home
If you are a council or housing association tenant and you claim housing benefit to pay your rent, the shared accommodation rate does not apply to you.
You probably get enough housing benefit to cover your rent if you receive jobseeker's allowance or income support.
You might not receive full housing benefit if the council decides you have more bedrooms than you need.
If you are working, you may not receive enough housing benefit to pay all the rent. You are expected to pay the shortfall.
Find out more about what to do if housing benefit won't cover the rent.
Housing benefit for care leavers
Most care leavers aged 16 or 17 aren't entitled to claim housing benefit. You should get help from social services to pay your rent until you are 18.
If you are aged 18 or over, you can claim housing benefit for a rented home. The shared accommodation rate for a private rented place won't apply to you until your 22nd birthday.
Most full-time students are not eligible to claim housing benefit, but there are exceptions.
If you're a part-time students, you can claim housing benefit if you rent privately. If you live in a student halls of residence or university-owned housing, you can only claim housing benefit if you fall into certain categories.
If you are severely disabled
If you are a disabled person you won't be restricted to the shared accommodation rate for housing benefit if you:
- receive the middle or high rate of disability living allowance
- get the daily living component of personal independence payment, or the armed forces independence payment
- need overnight care and no-one gets carer's allowance for looking after you
Discretionary housing payments for rent shortfall
You may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment to help make up a housing benefit shortfall if you are struggling to pay rent.