Discretionary housing payments (DHP)

You can apply for a discretionary housing payment if your universal credit housing element or housing benefit won't cover your rent.

What is a DHP?

A discretionary housing payment (DHP) is an extra payment made by your local council if you're struggling to pay rent. You don't need to repay a DHP.

You need to be receiving housing benefit or the universal credit housing element to get a DHP.

Reasons that you are struggling to pay your rent could include:

DHPs can also help pay a tenancy deposit or rent in advance for a new home, but only if you're already getting housing benefit or universal credit housing element where you live now.

You can't get a DHP to cover a rent shortfall if your benefits have been reduced because of an overpayment.

Make a DHP claim

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

How soon you can apply after claiming universal credit

You can apply for a DHP at the end of your first universal credit assessment period. This is usually one month after you first made your universal credit claim.

If you recently applied for universal credit because the coronavirus outbreak has affected your income, you can apply for a DHP at the end of that first month.

What the council looks at

Give the council as much information as you can to explain why you need a DHP.

Tell the council:

  • why you need help with your rent

  • what has caused your rent shortfall - for example, you have to pay the bedroom tax or have lost income

  • if you're at risk of homelessness because of your rent shortfall or rent arrears

DHPs are usually only paid for a limited period. You may have to apply for another DHP at the end of the period.

If your council turns your application down, you can ask them to reconsider if you think the decision is unfair.

You can also apply for a DHP again. Councils receive new funding for DHPs every financial year.

Tell the council if you have new information to support your application.

How much can be paid?

Each case is different. You may get enough to cover all the shortfall in your rent or costs or just part of what you have to pay.

DHPs may be paid weekly, fortnightly, monthly or as a lump sum. Payments can be backdated.

Last updated: 8 April 2020

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