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Universal credit liability condition

This content applies to England

There are pending updates to this page following Brexit and the end of transition period on 31 December 2020

To be eligible for the housing costs element of universal credit the claimant must be liable to make the payments in respect of the accommodation.

Claimants treated as liable

The claimant must be liable to make the payments in respect of the accommodation,[1] or be liable for one of these reasons:[2]

  • they are the partner of the claimant
  • the liable person is a child for whom the claimant receives child benefit, eg where a minor has inherited a tenancy held on trust for them
  • the person who is liable to make payments has not done so, and
    • the claimant needs to make the payments to continue to live in the accommodation
    • it is unreasonable to expect them to make other arrangements, and
    • it is reasonable to treat the claimant as being liable to make the payments
  • liability to make payments has been waived by the landlord as compensation for repair or redecoration work, that the claimant carried out her/his self
  • where a rent-free period is allowed for as part of the tenancy or occupancy agreement.

Claimants not treated as liable

Certain claimants who make payments for their home are treated as not being liable to make housing cost payments, and will not be entitled to the housing cost element of universal credit.

This applies when:[3]

  • the claimant is liable to make payments to a close relative who lives in the same property. (A close relative is a partner, child or young person for whom the claimant receives child benefit, parent, brother, sister, step-parent, step-child, in-law or a partner of one of these persons[4]
  • the liability to make payments is to a company or trust, and the claimant or a close relative is an owner/director or trustee/beneficiary of that company/trust
  • an owner-occupier is making loan repayments to another member of their household
  • the rent (or other payment) has increased because the arrears were incorporated into the contractual rent (or other payment). The housing costs will only pay towards the previous liability and not towards any increase due to arrears
  • the liability to pay housing costs was contrived in order to receive payments of universal credit.


The information on this page reflects the law as applicable in England. Go to Shelter Cymru to check for variations applicable in Wales.

[1] s.11(1) Welfare Reform Act 2012 (partially in force).

[2] Sch. 2 Part 1 Universal Credit Regulations 2013.

[3] Sch. 2 Part 2 Universal Credit Regulations 2013.

[4] reg 2 Universal Credit Regulations 2013.

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