Your living arrangements can affect the amount of housing benefit you can get if you're a young person between 16 and 34.
Why is age important when claiming housing benefit?
Your age affects the maximum rate of housing benefit you can get. Housing benefit rates were reduced for many under 35s because of policy changes in 2012.
Housing benefit for private renters is known as local housing allowance (LHA).
Make sure you know the maximum LHA you are entitled to before you sign a tenancy agreement.
The shared accommodation rate
If you are aged under 35 and rent privately, you can normally only claim housing benefit at the rate for a single room in a shared house. This rule is known as the shared accommodation rate.
Not everyone aged under 35 is affected by the shared accommodation rate. If you have a disability, are a care-leaver or you rent from the council, the shared accommodation rate may not apply to you.
The shared accommodation rate applies even if you have a place of your own, so you may not get enough to pay the rent.
Before January 2012, the shared accommodation rate applied only to people aged under 25.
Under 35 and already renting privately
If you are single and you already have a privately rented self-contained place, you can claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover the rent on a one-bedroom home as long as you:
- were able to pay your own rent when you moved into your home
- have not claimed LHA 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.
If you have been in your home for less than a year, you are limited to the shared accommodation rate from the start of your claim.
Read Shelter's factsheet on housing benefit for under 35s for more information.
Renting a council or housing association home
The shared accommodation rate does not apply to council or housing association tenants. You probably get enough housing benefit to cover your rent if you receive jobseeker's allowance or income support.
You may not receive full housing benefit if the council decides you have more bedrooms than you need.
If you work, you probably don't receive enough housing benefit to pay all the rent.
Care-leavers aged 16 or 17 probably won't be able to claim housing benefit. You should be entitled to support from social services because you are under 18.
If you are aged 18 or over, you should be able to claim housing benefit for a rented home.
The shared accommodation rate for a private rented place won't apply until your 22nd birthday.
Most full-time students are not eligible to claim housing benefit, but there are exceptions. Part-time students can sometimes claim housing benefit.
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 living allowance or can prove that you need overnight care.
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.
Young people and housing
See our section about housing advice for young people for more on finding a home, renting, dealing with homelessness, and your rights.