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Housing benefit: renting from family

Find out if you can claim housing benefit for rent you pay to someone in your family.

Living in the same home

You can't get housing benefit for rent you pay to a close family member you live with. For example, if you're living with your parents and paying towards household costs.

People who count as close family members are your:

  • parents or step-parents
  • child or step-child
  • sisters or brothers
  • half-sisters or half-brothers

Partners of these family members also count as close family members.

Living in a separate home

You can get housing benefit if you rent a property from a member of your close family who lives elsewhere.

You can only get housing benefit in this situation if the council treat your tenancy as a commercial one rather than an informal family arrangement.

The council will want to see proof of your tenancy, such as a contract or evidence of rent payments.

The council may also want to see other evidence of a genuine landlord-tenant relationship. They might ask whether your relative took a security deposit or provided you with a gas safety certificate before you moved in.

The council will refuse your housing benefit claim if it believes that your relative would not evict you even if you can't pay the rent.

Renting from an ex-partner

You can't get housing benefit if you pay rent to an ex-partner for a home you used to live in as a couple, or if you have a child with your ex and your child lives with you.

You can get housing benefit if you pay rent to an ex-partner for somewhere you never lived together as a couple, as long as you do not have a child with your ex who continues to live with you.

Challenging housing benefit decisions

You can challenge a housing benefit decision if you think it is wrong.

You could get help from a benefits adviser at Citizens Advice or another independent advice centre.

Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area


Last updated 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter

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