How to claim housing benefit


How much housing benefit you get

Council and housing association tenants

Your rent could be covered in full if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • employment and support allowance (income-related)
  • jobseeker’s allowance (income-based)
  • income support
  • pension credit guarantee

You won’t get full housing benefit if you’re affected by the benefit cap. Your housing benefit is reduced so that your income falls within the cap.

Other restrictions

The council can make a deduction from your housing benefit if an adult friend or family member lives in your home. Certain adult occupiers are expected to contribute towards the rent under the rules.

Your housing benefit is reduced if you’re affected by the bedroom tax because you have more bedrooms than the rules allow.

Service charges

Some service charges are covered if you have to pay them under your tenancy agreement. For example, charges for heating and cleaning of communal areas.

Certain service charges are never covered even if you pay them as part of your rent. For example, charges for:

  • meals
  • personal care or support
  • warden or care alarm systems
  • fuel and water (unless for communal areas)

Private tenants

Housing benefit won’t usually cover your full rent if you're a private tenant.

The maximum you can get is the local housing allowance (LHA) rate that applies to your household.

This is based on the number of bedrooms you can claim for under the rules:

Check your LHA rate on GOV.UK

If you're under 35 and single, you can usually only get the shared accommodation rate even if you don't share your home with others.

You won’t get the full LHA rate if you’re affected by the benefit cap. Your housing benefit is reduced so that your income falls within the cap.

Other restrictions

The council can make a deduction from your housing benefit if an adult friend or family member lives in your home. Certain adult occupiers are expected to contribute towards the rent under the rules.

When different rules apply

Your housing benefit is calculated in a different way if you:

If you’re working

You won't usually get full housing benefit unless you earn less than you'd get on JSA, ESA or income support.

Your housing benefit is reduced by 65p for every £1 you get in extra income above the amount you'd receive in benefits if you weren't working.

Most of your wages and any tax credits count as extra income. 

If you have savings

Your housing benefit can be reduced if you have more than:

  • £6,000 in savings - working age claims
  • £10,000 in savings - pension age claims

Cash, bank accounts and shares all count but money held in an annuity, pension plan or life insurance policy doesn't.

You're treated as earning £1 a week for every £250 savings above the limit if you're working age, or £1 a week for every £500 savings above the limit if you're pension age.

Housing benefit is reduced by 65p for every £1 you're treated as earning from your savings.  

This applies even if you don't get any interest from your savings.

Savings don't affect your housing benefit if you get income-related ESA, income-based JSA, income support or pension credit guarantee.

If you own a property

The value of any property you own or part-own can affect your housing benefit.

The equity in the property (the amount you would come out with after deducting the costs of sale and paying off any mortgage) sometimes counts as capital. 

You can't usually get housing benefit if you have more than £16,000 in capital.  

The value of your property can be ignored for up to 6 months if you separate from your partner and leave the family home.

It can be ignored for longer if:

  • your former partner lives there as a lone parent
  • you're taking steps to sell your property

If housing benefit doesn’t cover your full rent

You must pay your landlord any shortfall between your rent and your housing benefit:

Apply for a discretionary housing payment if you're struggling

Make sure you're claiming everything you can:

Use the entitledto benefits calculator to check

If you're in rent arrears:

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person


Last updated 24 Sep 2018 | © Shelter

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