Your council should take no more than 14 days for your housing benefit claim to be processed. It will take longer if the council needs more information from you.
How long a housing benefit claim should take
The housing benefit department should deal with your claim within 14 days of you making your claim.
The housing benefit department should:
- make a decision on your claim for housing benefit
- tell you the decision in writing
- pay you housing benefit, if you are entitled to it
It can take longer, but a housing benefit payment must be made as soon as it's reasonably possible.
How to avoid a housing benefit delay
Make a claim for housing benefit as soon as you can. Provide enough evidence to support your claim.
Phone or visit the housing benefit department and check it has your claim form and all the information needed. If you phone, you can use our checklist to plan what you say.
Keep track of your claim. Always ask for the name of the person you speak to at the council. Make a note of their name, the date you spoke and what they said.
Information to support your claim
You must provide the information that the council asks for within a month of being asked. If you don't, the council may decide you are not entitled to housing benefit.
Tell the council immediately if you are having trouble finding the required information or evidence for your housing benefit claim. The council may be able to request information on your behalf or accept alternative documents.
Payment on account for some tenants
If your claim takes more than 14 days to process and you are a private or housing association tenant, ask for a housing benefit payment on account.
Payment on account is a stop-gap payment to help you keep up with your rent.
Delays if your housing benefit form gets lost
Always keep receipts and photocopies of the housing benefit claim form and information you submit. Save a copy if you apply online.
If your claim form is lost, you must fill in another claim form and provide the information again. If you have receipts and copies for your first claim form, include these with the new form.
If you don't have proof you sent the claim form, tell the council you have already given it your form.
Don't stop paying rent while waiting for housing benefit
Try to keep making payments you can afford while your housing benefit is delayed to avoid falling into significant rent arrears. Keep your landlord informed of your situation.
Complaints about a housing benefit delay
You can complain to the council about an unreasonable delay. Write to the housing benefit department.
Get advice if the council is taking too long on your housing benefit claim, particularly if you are in rent arrears.
Still need help?
A benefits adviser from Citizens Advice or an independent agency can help you with these problems.
Last updated 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter