Housing benefit for two homes

Housing benefit is usually only paid for one home, but in some circumstances it can be paid on two properties for a limited time.

You can't avoid paying rent for two homes

If you have moved, it may be possible to get housing benefit paid for both your old and new home for up to four weeks.

You must show that you could not avoid an overlap between the end of your old tenancy and the start of your new tenancy.

For example you had to:

  • accept the tenancy at your new home immediately, but still had to give notice to end the tenancy at your old home. This means you have to pay rent on the two properties for a while
  • move out of a home that's been damaged by fire or flood but still have to pay rent and give notice to the landlord that you're leaving

Remember that you must tell the housing benefit department if there are changes to your circumstances.

You're waiting for adaptations

Usually you're not paid housing benefit until you move into your new home.

It can be paid for up to four weeks before you move into a new home if you have to wait for adaptations to be finished for you or a disabled member of your household. Any work to make the home suitable for the disabled person counts, including redecorating and carpeting.

If you have a home already, you can also continue to receive housing benefit for your old home.

You left your home because of fear of violence

If you have left your home because of violence or fear of abuse or violence, you can get housing benefit for both your old home and the home you are staying in now.

You can get housing benefit for both homes for up to one year, as long as you intend to return to your old home. If you do not intend to return to your old home, housing benefit is only paid on both homes for up to four weeks.

Where you fear violence in your home, it is not restricted to threats, abuse or harm from your husband, wife or other family member. Fear of violence from neighbours or others or fear of racial attacks on your home also count. Where your fear of violence is only when you go outside your home, the threat must be from a former family member.

You don't have to have suffered actual violence. A genuine fear of violence is enough, though you may be asked to provide some evidence of threats or harassment.

Your family is too big for one home

This only applies if the council has placed your family in two homes because they could not provide you with a home big enough for your whole family.

You can get housing benefit for both places for as long as it is needed.

How to apply

Payments for two homes are not given automatically. You must contact your housing benefit department and ask.

Your local council's website should explain the application process and list the address of their housing benefit department.

If you write to the council, your letter should include:

  • the address of your old tenancy and the date that your tenancy ends
  • the address of your new tenancy and the date that your tenancy starts, and
  • your reasons for moving
  • if relevant, why you couldn't end your old tenancy before signing up to the new tenancy

Use Shelter's template letter to ask your council for housing benefit for two homes.

Get advice about housing benefit

Contact a benefits adviser if you are unsure of your rights or would like help asking for housing benefit for two homes.

An adviser can check your eligibility and help you write to the housing benefit department.

A benefits adviser can also help if your request for two homes is turned down and you need help with asking for a review or an appeal.

Search for your nearest Citizens Advice service for benefits advice

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person

Last updated 08 Jun 2016 | © Shelter

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