Housing benefit for pre-2008 private tenants


If you rent privately and have claimed housing benefit from before 7 April 2008 without a break, your housing benefit calculation has its own set of rules.  

Rules for unbroken claims made before 7 April 2008

More generous housing benefit rules apply if you have claimed housing benefit continuously from before this date.

If there is a break in your housing benefit claim or you move house, your new claim is calculated under the local housing allowance (LHA) rules.

General rules for housing benefit apply

Most of the rules used to calculate housing benefit for council and housing association tenants apply to you, including the rules for assessing:

Rent restrictions apply

The rent used to calculate your housing benefit could be restricted to the average rent level for your area. This is called the 'local reference rent'. This might be less than your actual rent.

You might not receive full housing benefit if the council decides you have more bedrooms than you need.

You are only entitled to the shared accommodation rate if you are under 35.

When the housing benefit you receive is less than the rent you pay, you are responsible for paying the shortfall.

Room restrictions apply

The council assesses how many bedrooms you are allowed to claim for.

The rules allow for one room for:

  • an adult couple
  • other person aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
  • any two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
  • a child who cannot share a bedroom because of a disability
  • any other child

You are allowed one extra bedroom if you are a foster carer.

You are also allowed these living rooms:

  • 1 for fewer than four people
  • 2 for four to six people
  • 3 for seven or more people

If you or your partner are disabled and require overnight care, you can claim housing benefit for an extra bedroom for an overnight carer, but only if a bedroom is already available.

There is no upper limit on the number of rooms used to calculate your housing benefit entitlement unless the council decides your home is larger than you need.

Your housing benefit is calculated using the average rent for a home of the size appropriate for your household in your area.

Get advice

This is a simplified guide to complex rules. You must get advice from a benefits adviser if you need to know more.

Search for your nearest Citizens Advice service

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person


Last updated 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter

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