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Ineligible claimants

This content applies to England

Claimants who are not eligible for housing benefit.

The following groups and types of resident are excluded from claiming housing benefit.

Full-time students

Most full-time students are not eligible for housing benefit.[1]

Exceptions

A full-time student is eligible for housing benefit if s/he:[2]

  • receives income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment support allowance or universal credit (where that payment does not include an amount for housing costs)
  • is on a part-time course
  • is aged under 20 on approved training, and were enrolled before they reached 19
  • is aged under 21 and in non-advanced education, or aged over 21 and continuing such a course
  • is a lone parent responsible for a dependent child or qualifying young person
  • and her/his partner are full-time students, and either or both are responsible for a dependent child or qualifying young person
  • is a lone foster parent
  • (in certain circumstances) is a disabled person
  • qualifies for a disabled student's allowance because s/he is deaf
  • or her/his partner, has reached state pension credit age
  • has returned from a temporary break from a course taken because s/he was sick or caring for someone, and is now not entitled to a grant or student loan.

Additionally, in the case of a couple where only one of them is a full-time student, the non-student is eligible to claim housing benefit on behalf of both.[3]

Care leavers

Care leavers, who are 'relevant children' under the age of 18 cannot get housing benefit because the social services department are responsible for their financial support.[4] See the Young people and care leavers section for more information on young people and care leavers.

Residents of care homes

Claimants who live in care homes are normally excluded from housing benefit.[5] There are separate provisions for income support for people in these circumstances. If a claimant moves into a residential care home on a trial basis, for example to see if it is suitable for her/his needs, with the intention on the day of entry to return to her/his home if the trial proves unsuccessful, s/he can receive housing benefit on her/his old home for up to 13 weeks.[6] This entitlement is not affected if during that time s/he decides to stay in residential accommodation permanently.[7]

Where a claimant enters residential care on a temporary basis, for example while her/his carer is temporarily unavailable, with the intention to return to her/his original home, s/he is entitled to housing benefit to pay for the original home for up to 52 weeks.

The provision of a full-time live-in carer, or any other element of health care, does not have the effect of converting a private home into a care home.[8]

Staying in a nightshelter

A person who:

  • stays in a first-come first-served nightshelter,
  • cannot remain or leave her/his belongings in the shelter during the day
  • sleeps in a dormitory and has no security of tenure

was not occupying a dwelling as his home. As such s/he is not entitled to housing benefit for any overnight charges.[9]

Mortgage holders and long leaseholders

Housing benefit is not payable for these costs.[10] Some assistance may be available through Support for mortgage interest (see also the section on Mortgage arrears: payment problems).

Occupiers in co-ownership schemes

Payments under a housing association co-ownership scheme are not eligible for housing benefit.[11] This is not the same as a shared ownership scheme (see section on Shared/low-cost home ownership in Home ownership) where housing benefit can be claimed on the rent element of the housing costs.

Mobile home owners

Housing benefit is not payable toward costs of purchasing a mobile home under a hire purchase, credit sale or conditional sale agreement.[12]

Long tenancies

Payments under a long tenancy (ie a tenancy granted for a term of more than 21 years) are not eligible for housing benefit.[13] However, housing benefit is payable on a tenancy purporting to be a long tenancy but not created under seal.[14]

Crown tenants

Crown tenants (ie tenants where the interest in the land is owned by the Crown or a government department) are excluded from claiming housing benefit,[15] but may be entitled to income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance to help with their housing costs. In addition, many Crown landlords have voluntarily established separate schemes for tenants on low incomes. The local authority sometimes administers these.

Tenants or licencees of the Crown Estate Commissioners, or of the Duchies of Lancaster or Cornwall, do not fall within the definition of Crown tenants, and are entitled to housing benefit.[16]

Members of a religious order

Housing benefit is not payable where an occupier is fully maintained by a religious order, eg monks and nuns in enclosed orders.[17] However, members of religious communities may be eligible for housing benefit if they are obliged to contribute towards their own board and lodging.

Persons from abroad

A person classified as a 'person from abroad' is not eligible for housing benefit because s/he is treated as not liable for rent.[18]

A person may be a 'person from abroad' if s/he does not meet:

  • immigration control test
  • right to reside test
  • habitual residence test

The test(s) that applies to a particular applicant mainly depends on her/his nationality.

Note that:

  • a British citizen returning to the UK from abroad or coming to the UK for the first time is a 'person from abroad' and will only be eligible for housing benefit if s/he passes the habitual residence test
  • an EEA national will not be subject to the right to reside test (and will not be a 'person from abroad') if s/he has been continuously entitled to one or more of the following benefits since 30 April 2004: housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment support allowance pesnion credit or council tax benefit[19].

Persons who are treated as not from abroad

The regulations list categories of persons who are treated as not being 'from abroad'; persons in those categories are therefore  eligible.[20] The categories of those eligible for housing benefit are similar (but not the same) as those eligible for housing assistance under Parts 6 and 7 of the Housing Act 1996. See:

Categories removed from eligibility

The regulations have been amended to remove the following categories of person from eligibility.

1. Persons leaving Montserrat or Zimbabwe

With effect from 29 October 2013, persons in the following two categories are 'persons from abroad' and only eligible for housing benefit if they have a right to reside in the Common Travel Area (if they are British Citizens they have a right to reside), are habitually resident, and:[21]

  • left Montserrat after 1 November 1995 because of the effects of the volcanic eruption
  • came from Zimbabwe to settle in the UK between 28 February 2009 and 17 March 2011 following an offer of assistance from the UK government.

2. EEA/EU nationals claiming income-based JSA

With effect from 1 April 2014, an EEA/EU national (or her/his family member) in receipt of income-based jobseekers allowance (JSA) and whose only right to reside in the UK is the extended right of a jobseeker is not eligible for housing benefit.[22] This removed the automatic 'passporting' of EEA/EU nationals in receipt of income-based JSA to housing benefit.

There is transitional protection for those EEA/EU nationals who were eligible for both income-based JSA and housing benefit on 30 March 2014, which ends when there is a break in claim for either benefit.[23]

Windrush generation

On 4 May 2018, the DWP issued HB Urgent Bulletin U1/2018 advising local authorities that they should allow access to housing benefit to claimants who are unable to prove their immigration status but indicate that they are from the ‘Windrush generation’ (relatives of migrants from Commonwealth Caribbean countries who settled in the UK before 1973). The authority is advised ‘to apply extreme caution and refer the claimant, or their representative, to the Home Office dedicated taskforce team’ on 0800 678 1925.

The DWP has also issued DMG Memo 8/18 giving guidance on Commonwealth citizens and their families unable to provide documentary evidence of immigration status who are claiming other income-related benefits. This advises that 'where the evidence of nationality and status provided to and held by DWP and the Home Office indicates that the balance of probabilities is that the claimant is likely to have legal and habitual residence, the decision maker may determine that the claimant is eligible to claim...'. This is not restricted to the ‘Windrush generation’, see para 4 of the Memo for details.

[1] reg 56(1) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[2] reg 56(2A) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as amended.

[3] reg 8(1)(e) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[4] s.23B(8) Children Act 1989.

[5] reg 9(1)(k) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 9(1)(k) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[6] reg 7(11) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213.

[7] Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Selby DC [2006] EWCA Civ 271.

[8] R (on the application of Whapples) v Birmingham Crosscity Clinical Commissioning Group [2015] EWCA Civ 435.

[9] OR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Isle of Anglesey CC [2013] UKUT 065 (AAC).

[10] reg 12(2)(a) and (c) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 12(2)(a) and (c) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[11] reg 12(2)(b) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 12(2)(b) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[12] reg 12(2)(d) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 12(2)(d) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[13] reg 12(2)(a) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 12(2)(a) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[14] Social Security Commissioner decision CH/883/2006; DB v Bromley LBC (HB) [2013] UKUT 373 (AAC).

[15] reg 12(2)(e) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 12(2)(e) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[16] paras 3.210 to 3.218 of section A3, HB/CTB Guidance Manual July 2009.

[17] reg 9(1)(j) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 9(1)(j) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[18] reg 10 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 10 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[19] para 6(4) Sch.3 Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/2017; AP v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (IS) [2018] UKUT 307 (AAC).

[20] reg 10(3B) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 10(4A) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214 each as amended by Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/902.

[21] reg 10 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 10 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214, each as amended by the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments)(No.3) Regulations 2013; DMG Memo 22/13.

[22] regs 10(3) and 10(l) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213, as amended by Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations 2014 SI 2014/539; see also HB Circular A6/2014.

[23] reg 3 Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations 2014 SI 2014/539.

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