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Universal credit housing element

Universal credit has a housing element to help you pay:

  • rent

  • some service charges

It is not the same as housing benefit but it is worked out in a similar way.

Universal credit might not pay your full rent

You should make sure all your rent is paid. You could get extra help from the council.

Find out about discretionary housing payments (DHPs).

How your housing element is paid

You usually get the housing element as part of your monthly UC payment.

You should pay the full rent to your landlord or letting agent.

UC is paid to you in arrears. It takes at least 5 weeks for you to get any money when you first claim. After the first payment, you should get your UC on the same day each month.

You can sometimes ask for your housing element to be paid to your landlord.

Rent is usually due in advance. This means you might have to pay your rent from other money at the start of your claim.

Find out about emergency grants, loans and money help.

How much is your housing element?

Your housing element is affected by how many bedrooms you can claim for.

This depends on who you live with and their:

  • age

  • sex

  • disability

  • relationship to you

Find out about how many bedrooms you can get benefits for.

Private renters

Your housing element is worked out using local housing allowance (LHA) rates.

LHA rates are different depending on where you live in the UK.

Most single renters under 35 can only get the shared accommodation rate. This means you probably need to look for a room in a shared house or house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Council and housing association tenants

Your housing element is based on your actual rent. Some service charges are also covered.

You have to pay the bedroom tax if you have more bedrooms than the rules allow. This means you get less benefits to help with rent.

Joint tenancies with a partner

Your housing element is based on your full rent if you claim UC with your partner.

Tell the DWP if your relationship breaks down. Your housing element should be based on your full rent if your ex partner moves out and stops paying rent.

Joint tenancies with other people

If you have a joint private tenancy with someone who is not your partner, your housing element is based on either:

  • your LHA rate

  • your actual share of the rent

Your UC housing element is worked out using the lowest of these amounts.

Joint tenants are legally responsible for the whole of the rent, not just your own share.

Proof of tenancy

You need to show proof that you have to pay rent. For example, a tenancy agreement. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will confirm this with the landlord.

You cannot get the housing element in these situations:

They might decide it's a 'non commercial' agreement if, for example, the rent is very low or the landlord takes no action if you miss rent payments.

Deductions for other adults who live with you

The DWP expects adults who live in your home to help with your rent. For example, an adult child who still lives at home. The DWP calls these people 'non dependants'.

Your housing element is cut by £91.47 a month for any non dependants who live with you.

The deductions are called housing costs contributions. Ask your family member or friend member if they can help with at least this amount each month.

Find out when the DWP should not make a deduction.

Can your housing element be sanctioned?

The DWP can cut your benefit for a time if they think you have not met a condition in your 'claimant commitment'.

Only your standard allowance is cut if you are sanctioned while on UC.

Your housing element will not change.

Hostels, supported or temporary housing

You can get UC in these types of housing but you might not get the housing element.

You need to claim housing benefit if you do not get the housing element of UC.

Ask your landlord or housing provider if you do not know which benefit to claim.

Paying a mortgage on universal credit

Universal credit does not help with mortgage payments.

After 3 months on UC you can get a support for mortgage interest (SMI) loan. This is not a benefit and has to be paid back when your home is sold.

Still need help?

Find out:

Last updated: 10 June 2024

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