Housing costs and Universal Credit – key features

Can universal credit help with your rent or mortgage? Find out about the key features of universal credit.

Private renters

1 You can claim universal credit and get help with your rent if you are in work or out of work. You must be of working-age to claim it. 

2 You'll be paid monthly. It's paid into your bank, building society or credit union account. Your payment includes money towards your housing costs. You'll be responsible for paying your rent to your landlord.

3 Most claimants get no help with paying the rent for the first seven days after you put in your claim for universal credit.

4 The amount of help with your rent is limited to a maximum set according to the area you live in and the number of bedrooms you are allowed to claim for – this can never be more than four bedrooms.

5 The amount of help you get is designed so that you should be better off in work or if the amount you earn goes up. Some of your earnings are ignored completely.

6 The benefit cap applies in most cases. If it applies to you, the total amount of benefits you are paid can't be more than £500 per week (for single parents and couples with children) or £350 per week (for single people).

7 If the help you get to pay your housing costs doesn't cover all your rent you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment.

Council and housing association tenants

1 You can claim universal credit and get help with your housing costs if you are in work or out of work. You must be of working-age to claim it. 

2 You'll be paid monthly – and the payment to you includes money towards your rent. It's paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

3 You have to pay your rent yourself from your universal credit payment – or risk eviction for rent arrears.

4 The amount of help you get is limited if you have more bedrooms than rules say you need

5 Most claimants get no help with paying the rent for the first seven days after you put in your claim for universal credit.

6 The benefit cap applies in most cases. If it applies to you, the total amount of benefits you are paid can't be more than £500 per week (for single parents and couples with children) or £350 per week (for single people).

7 If the help you get to pay your housing costs doesn't cover all your rent you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment.

Home-owners

1 You can claim universal credit and get help with your housing costs through support for mortgage interest (SMI) if you (and your partner) are out of work.

2 There is a nine month wait before help with paying your mortgage begins. You will have to budget for your full mortgage payments during this time to avoid mortgage arrears.

3 SMI stops if you or your partner start earning any money

4 SMI is paid directly to your mortgage lender.

5 The amount you get for your mortgage could be less than the amount you have to pay. Be prepared for a shortfall.

6 If you are a leaseholder, you may also get help towards paying some service charges.

7 The benefit cap applies in most cases. If it applies to you, the total amount of benefits you are paid can't be more than £500 per week (for single parents and couples with children) or £350 per week (for single people).

Shared ownership owners

1 You can claim universal credit and get help with your housing costs through support for mortgage interest (SMI) and also get help with your rent.

2 There is a nine month wait before help with paying your mortgage begins. Help with your rent usually starts seven days after you made your claim.

3 SMI is paid directly to your mortgage lender. Help with your rent is paid direct to you.

4 You must pay rent to your housing association yourself – it won't be paid directly to them.

5 The amount you get towards your mortgage or your rent could be less than the amount you have to pay. Be prepared for a shortfall.

6 You may get help with paying some service charges if you are a leaseholder.

7 The benefit cap applies in most cases. If it applies to you, the total amount of benefits you are paid can't be more than £500 per week (for single parents and couples with children) or £350 per week (for single people).

 

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