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How to speed up your housing benefit claim

Delays with housing benefit claims can cause problems with your landlord. Find out how to speed up your housing benefit claim, prevent delays and keep paying your rent.

1. Send the council all the information it needs

Ask the council's housing benefit department what information it needs to process your claim for housing benefit.

Check your council's website using the council finder for details if you're applying online.

Use Shelter's checklist to see what information you must provide

2. Check the council got your housing benefit application

Make sure that the council has received your application and has all the information it needs.

Call to check, keeping a record of when you call and who you speak to with our checklist.

Use Shelter's checklist to help you plan your phone call

3. Respond quickly to the council's queries

If the council asks for more information from you, provide it as soon as possible to avoid further delays.

Make a note of the information you provide. Keep copies and get a receipt for your claim form and any documents.

4. Ask for payment on account

You shouldn't have to wait longer than two weeks for housing benefit to be paid if you have filled in the form correctly and provided all the information the council needs.

The council should automatically make a payment on account while your full claim is being decided. This does not apply if you're a council tenant.

If you don't receive a payment on account, use the council finder to contact your council.

5. Find out how much your housing benefit should be

Check through if your council's website has an online calculator so you can work it out yourself.

Use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check what other benefits you can apply for.

Speak to a benefits adviser to find out how much housing benefit you're likely to get.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local benefits adviser

6. Plan your budget so you can pay your rent

You could fall behind with your rent if your housing benefit is delayed, so plan your budget.

Your housing benefit might not cover your whole rent. You will need a plan to make up the difference.

Keep paying your rent. Don't stop. It's better to make small regular payments of rent than nothing at all.

7. Keep your landlord updated

Contact your landlord if a housing benefit delay means you'll miss a rent payment and fall into arrears. Tell them you'll be getting housing benefit soon.

Get more information about negotiating with your landlord over rent arrears.

Last updated 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter

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