Housing benefit can help to pay your rent if you're on a low income. You can claim if you are in work or not working. Find out how to claim housing benefit directly from the council or when making a new claim for other benefits.
How to claim housing benefit
Claim direct from the council
You can ask your council for a claim form by phone, in person or online.
Or you can complete the HCTB1 claim form online, print it off and return it to your council.
Claim via Jobcentre Plus
You can put in a claim for housing benefit when you make a new claim for:
- employment and support allowance (ESA)
- income support
- jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
You can make a 'rapid reclaim' on a shorter form if you have claimed housing benefit and another benefit within the last 26 weeks (or 12 weeks for ESA) and your circumstances are the same.
Jobcentre Plus will usually forward your housing benefit claim to your council.
If Jobcentre Plus tell you to claim universal credit instead you won't usually get housing benefit but might get a housing costs element as part of your universal credit award.
Claim via the Pension Service
You can claim housing benefit at the same time as claiming pension credit.
Your claim can be backdated for up to three months.
The Pension Service will usually forward your housing benefit claim to your council.
How to complete a housing benefit form
The HCTB1 claim form is long. Read the form and any instructions carefully.
You only have to complete the sections relevant to you. Someone else can fill in the form for you but you must sign it.
Be honest when you complete your form. You might be paid too much housing benefit and have to repay it if you withhold or give inaccurate information. You could also be prosecuted.
Where to take or send the form
The claim form should be returned to your council's housing benefit office. The address will be on your council's website.
Return the form in person if you can and get a receipt. Ask the housing benefit office to copy important documents so they can be returned to you immediately.
You should get an email acknowledgement to say your form has been received if you claim online.
If you claim via Jobcentre Plus or the Pension Service
JobCentre Plus or the Pension Service will usually send your housing benefit claim to your council. You should check that the council has received it to avoid delays.
Evidence to support your claim
The claim form lists the evidence that you must provide to support your claim.
You must usually provide original documents and submit all supporting evidence within one month of your claim.
Return your completed form even if you don't yet have all your supporting documents. The council can start to process your claim but you won't receive any housing benefit until you have provided all the supporting evidence.
Tell the council if you have problems getting any of the documents together.
Who can claim housing benefit
You or your partner can make a claim for housing benefit. It doesn't matter which of you is on the tenancy agreement as long as at least one of you is liable to pay rent.
You can only claim for a home which you normally live in although some temporary absences are allowed.
Income and savings rules
Housing benefit is a means-tested benefit which means that the council will look at your household income when deciding whether you are entitled to help.
You must have less than £16,000 in savings unless you are getting pension credit guarantee as well.
Who can't claim housing benefit
You can't usually claim housing benefit if you're claiming universal credit. You might get a housing costs element as part of your universal credit award instead.
You can't usually claim housing benefit if you are:
- a full-time student
- 16 or 17 and have been in care
- an EU or EEA national who has never worked in the UK
- subject to immigration control unless you have full recourse to public funds
If your landlord says you can't claim
You don't need your landlord or agent's permission to claim housing benefit but there could be problems if they don't want to rent to someone claiming benefits.
If you have a written tenancy agreement
Your tenancy agreement should state your rent. You can use it as supporting evidence to prove you have a tenancy and have to pay rent.
The housing benefit office won't usually inform your landlord about your claim unless you ask for housing benefit to be paid direct to your landlord.
If your tenancy agreement says you can't claim
Your landlord can't stop you claiming housing benefit but you could be in breach of your tenancy agreement and your landlord might take steps to evict you.
If you don't have a written agreement
You need to provide proof of your tenancy to support your claim. If your landlord is unwilling to confirm that you have a tenancy your claim might be refused.
Still need help?
Get advice if you need help with filling in the form or more information about claiming.
Sonia's Story: Keeping on top of things will help your claim
After getting divorced, Sonia had to sell her house which made no profit. In order to meet the cost of renting, Sonia had to apply for housing benefit. Read Sonia's full story.
Last updated 12 Jul 2017 | © Shelter
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