Many young people who rent privately can only get housing benefit to cover the cost of renting in shared accommodation. Different rules apply if you rent from a council or housing association.
Why age is important for housing benefit claims
Housing benefit for private renters is worked out using local housing allowance (LHA) rules.
There are restrictions on how much housing benefit you can claim if you're single, under the age of 35 and rent from a private landlord.
The shared accommodation rate
If you are single, under the age of 35 and rent privately, you can usually only get housing benefit at the local housing allowance (LHA) rate for a single room in a shared house.
The shared accommodation rate applies even if you have a place of your own, so you may not get enough to pay the rent.
There are exceptions to this rule.
Under 35 and already renting privately
If you are single and you already have a privately rented self-contained place, you can get the local housing allowance (LHA) rate for housing benefit on a one-bedroom home as long as you:
- were able to pay your own rent when you moved into your home
- have not been paid any housing benefit in the past year
You can claim housing benefit to cover your full rent for the first 13 weeks.
After 13 weeks, the maximum you get is the shared accommodation rate. You may need to look for somewhere cheaper to live during this time.
Housing benefit for a council or housing association home
The shared accommodation rate does not apply if you are a council or housing association tenant.
You will probably get enough housing benefit to cover your rent if you receive jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance or income support.
If you are working more than 16 hours a week, housing benefit won't cover your full rent. You must pay the shortfall.
If you are disabled
If you are a disabled person you won't be restricted to the shared accommodation rate if you receive regular overnight care or get any of the following benefits:
- daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP)
- middle or high rate care component of disability living allowance (DLA)
- armed forces independence payment
Most care leavers aged 16 or 17 aren't entitled to claim housing benefit. You should get help from social services to pay your rent until you are 18.
If you are aged 18 or over, you can claim housing benefit for a rented home.
The shared accommodation rate for a private rented place won't apply to you until your 22nd birthday.
You can't usually claim housing benefit if you are a full-time student but there are exceptions.
If you're a part-time student, you can claim housing benefit if you rent privately. If you live in student halls of residence or university-owned housing, you can only claim housing benefit if you fall into certain categories.
Discretionary housing payments
You may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment if housing benefit doesn't cover your full rent.
Last updated 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter
If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help