How to claim housing benefit


When you'll get housing benefit

How long before it’s paid

When you've given the council all the information they need to process your claim, you should be paid in 2 weeks.

Council tenants

After your claim is assessed, your housing benefit will be paid straight into your rent account on the day the rent is due.

There are sometimes delays in processing claims or making payments. Speak to your housing officer if this happens.

Private or housing association tenants

When it’s paid

Your housing benefit can be paid every 2 or 4 weeks or monthly, depending when your rent is due. Ask the council to pay it more or less frequently if you need them to.

It's paid in arrears, after your rent is due. That means you'll be paid for the week or month just gone, rather than the coming week or month. You'll have to budget for this as most landlords expect rent to be paid in advance.

How it’s paid

The council will usually pay your housing benefit straight into your bank account.

If you don’t have a bank account, find out more about opening one from the Money Advice Service or ask the council to pay it in a different way.

Who it’s paid to

It’s normally paid to you, but it will be paid to your landlord or letting agent if:

  • you or your landlord tell the council you have more than 8 weeks’ rent arrears
  • part of your other benefits like jobseeker’s allowance is already being paid to them because of arrears

You can also ask for your housing benefit to be paid to your landlord, for example because you struggle to manage your money. Speak to the council about this.

If there's a delay

Delays in processing a housing benefit claim are common.

If it takes longer than 2 weeks for your claim to go through, you should get a stop-gap payment called a payment on account.

This should be paid automatically after 2 weeks as long as you’ve provided all the required information and evidence. Request one if you don’t get it.

You should also find out what's causing the delay and see if there's anything you can do to speed things up.

Find out more about what you can do if your housing benefit is delayed

If you have rent arrears

Tell your landlord you’ve claimed and are continuing to chase things up with the council.

If your landlord gives you an eviction notice because you’re in rent arrears, tell the council. They should prioritise your claim.

Get help from a Shelter adviser if you’re struggling with rent arrears


Last updated 24 Sep 2018 | © Shelter

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