How to claim housing benefit

How housing benefit is paid

You should get housing benefit within 2 weeks of giving the the council all the information they need to process your claim. There are sometimes delays.

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. Ask for a payment on account if you've:

  • provided the required information and evidence

  • not received a payment after 2 weeks

Find out more about dealing with housing benefit delays.

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

The council will usually pay your housing benefit straight into your bank account. You should then pay the rent to your landlord.

It could be paid direct 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.

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.

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: 23 September 2018

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