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How long an award lasts

This content applies to England

How long an award of housing benefit lasts and the date on which an entitlement ends.

General rule for housing benefit entitlement

An award of housing benefit lasts indefinitely - though the local authority is likely to check on the claimant's details from time to time. In other words, an award continues until the claimant:

  • ceases to be entitled (for example, s/he inherits a large amount of capital) or
  • fails to respond to a check on her/his circumstances. In this case, the local authority first suspends the claimant's award, warning the claimant in writing that unless s/he responds, her/his housing benefit will stop altogether[1]
  • becomes entitled to universal credit (see below).

Changes in circumstances

Where a change in circumstances ends a claimant's entitlement, her/his housing benefit award will continue until the end of the benefit week in which the changed occurred (unless s/he is entitled to extended payments).[2]

There is an exception to this rule for all tenancies with a daily rent liability, including those in hostels[3] and certain other accommodation provided by a local authority under its statutory duties to a homeless person.[4] For such claims, the effective date is the day the change actually occurs, so residents only receive housing benefit for the exact days for which payments are due.

Claimant becomes entitled to universal credit

Where an applicant currently claiming housing benefit makes a successful claim for universal credit (UC), s/he will continue to receive housing benefit for two weeks after becoming entitled to UC.[5] Until migration of existing housing benefit claims begins, this is likely to be because of a change of circumstances. This will not apply where the applicant is in temporary accommodation or specified accommodation, as these claimants will continue to receive housing benefit in any case (see payment condition).[6] The Government has issued a housing benefit bulletin, which gives answers to frequently asked questions about this overlapping entitlement.[7]

[1] regs 11-14 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001 SI 2001/1002.

[2] reg 77 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 59(1) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[3] As defined in reg 2 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[4] reg 79(8) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as amended by reg 2(3) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294; reg 59(8) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, as amended by reg 3(3) Housing Benefit (Daily Liability Entitlement) Amendment Regulations 2007 SI 2007/294.

[5] reg 8(2A) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as inserted by reg 6(8) Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments, Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/65.

[6] reg 8(3) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/1230 as amended by reg 3(2)(d) Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions)(Amendment) Regulations 2014 and reg 6(7)(c) Universal Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments, Saving and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/65.

[7] HB Bulletin G5/2018.

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