If you want to claim housing benefit, your age will affect your claim. If you are 35 or younger, find out what type of housing you can get help with.
Want more information about young people's housing rights? Download our guide to your housing rights.
What is housing benefit?
Housing benefit is a benefit paid by local councils to help people on low incomes or benefits pay their rent. Housing benefit doesn’t cover all housing costs – service charges and other costs are usually not included, and it may not be enough to meet the cost of all the rent.
If you are working, the amount of housing benefit you can get varies according to your income – as your income rises, your housing benefit goes down. With income above a certain level, you won’t get housing benefit at all, and will have to pay all the rent from your own money.
If you claim benefits such as income support, income-related jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance, you get the maximum amount of housing benefit for your circumstances.
If you pay rent to a private landlord, your housing benefit is usually called local housing allowance (LHA). The maximum amount of housing benefit you can get will be limited by local housing allowance rules – use the LHA checker to find out the rates in your area.
Why does your age matter?
Housing benefit rules limit the maximum amount of benefit that can be paid to help with the rent. Age is used as one way of deciding what the maximum rate should be.
The shared accommodation rate
If you are aged under 35 and rent from a private landlord, the maximum housing benefit you can get is the same as the rate you would get for renting a single room in a shared house. This rule is known as the shared accommodation rate and applies to people who make new claims for housing benefit and to those whose claims began after April 2008. Not everyone aged under 35 is affected by the shared accommodation rate – see the exceptions listed below that may apply to you.
This rule applies even if you have a place of your own, so you may not get enough to pay the rent. There is a limit set for each local council area – you can find out what limit applies in your area (or another area) using the LHA calculator.
Before January 2012, the shared accommodation rate applied only to people aged under 25. There are special rules for people aged 25 to 34 that mean that reductions to housing benefit are delayed for a time. Find out more about this on our page for housing benefit for people aged under 35.
Under 35 and already renting from a private landlord
If you are a single person who has been renting a self-contained place from a private landlord, you will be able to claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover the rent on a one-bedroom place as long as:
- you were able to pay your own rent when you moved into your home and
- have not claimed LHA in the past year.
You will be able to claim for your full rent for the first 13 weeks. After 13 weeks, the maximum you will get will be limited to the shared accommodation rate. This is the same as you would get for renting a single room in a shared house in your area.
However, if you have been in your home for less than a year, you’ll be limited to the shared accommodation rate from the start of your claim.
Under 35 and a parent
Parents who have children living with them are allowed to claim housing benefit or local housing allowance for a self-contained private rented home. You will not be restricted to the shared accommodation rate even if you are under 35.
Couples can claim local housing allowance for a self-contained one-bedroom private rented property. If you are a couple living in shared accommodation, you will only be entitled to the shared accommodation rate. This may not apply if you have been in care or are severely disabled.
Under 35 and renting a council or housing association home
If you rent from the council or a housing association and you receive jobseeker’s allowance or income support, you will probably receive enough housing benefit to cover your rent. You won’t get help with water bills or some types of service charge that may be included in with your rent.
However, you may not receive full housing benefit if the council decides you have more bedrooms than you need.
If you have a job you will probably not get enough housing benefit to cover all the rent and will have to make up any difference from your own money.
If you’ve been in care
If you are a care-leaver and you are not yet 18 years old, you should still be entitled to support from social services, so you probably won’t be able to claim housing benefit. Once you reach 18, you should be able to claim housing benefit for your rented home. The shared accommodation rate for a private rented place won’t apply until your 22nd birthday.
If you are severely disabled
If you are a disabled person under the age of 25, you won’t be restricted to the shared accommodation rate for housing benefit, as long as you receive the middle or high rate of disability care allowance or can otherwise prove that you need overnight care.
If you are in hardship
If you are in hardship as a result of housing benefit restrictions, ask your local council about applying for a discretionary housing payment. It’s not a long-term solution, and not everyone gets it, but it could help you in the short-term.
Last updated: 1 January 2014