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Housing benefit

Rules for claiming help to pay rent, which is paid by local authorities and calculated by looking at income and local rent rates.

This content applies to England

Last updated: 10 February 2021

  • What is housing benefit?

    Housing benefit is administered by local authorities to help people on low incomes with their rent payments, typically covers part of the rent.

  • Liability for rent

    Anyone paying rent on a home they occupy can claim housing benefit, unless they are ineligible or are treated as not liable for rent.

  • Excluded from claiming housing benefit

    People who are excluded from claiming housing benefit, such as mortgage holders, mobile homeowner, and persons from abroad

  • Not liable to pay rent

    Situations where tenants are treated as not liable to pay rent, and therefore ineligible for housing benefit.

  • How housing benefit is calculated

    Stages of housing benefit calculation include considering the applicable personal allowances, income, rent or local housing allowance rate, and non-dependants.

  • Treatment of capital and income in housing benefit calculations

    Capital and net weekly income, notional capital and the income a claimant does not have, and their impact on housing benefit calculation.

  • Non-dependant deductions

    Deductions are made from housing benefit when other adults are also living in the claimant's home, with several exceptions.

  • Moving to new home

    Information on situations where housing benefit will be paid before a claimant moves into a new home.

  • Payments on more than one home

    Exceptional situations where housing benefit can be paid on more than one home for a limited period or indefinitely.

  • Temporary absences from home

    Housing benefit is payable during limited periods of temporary absence if a claimant intends to return to their home and has not sublet it.

  • How to make a housing benefit claim

    Procedure, forms and information needed to claim housing benefit from local authorities, including claiming as a couple or together with other benefits.

  • Backdated housing benefit claims

    Housing benefit can be backdated 1 month for working age claimants with a good reason for not claiming benefits earlier and 3 months for pension age claimants.

  • Payment of housing benefit

    The manner and frequency of housing benefit payment to different categories of tenants or to landlords.

  • Date from which housing benefit is paid

    Rules on the start date of housing benefit award and the first payment with exceptions such as Week One Yes rule and daily rent liability.

  • Duration of housing benefit award

    Award of housing benefit lasts indefinitely or until the circumstance change, with extended payments being possible in some circumstances.

  • Restrictions for private rented sector tenants

    Rent determination restricts claimant's eligible rent and maximum amount of housing benefit that a private sector tenant can receive.

  • Restrictions for social rented sector tenants

    The restrictions applicable to the eligible rent of a social rented sector tenant in receipt of housing benefit.

  • Service charges covered by housing benefit

    Service charges, except daily living expenses such as fuel, water and meals, are covered by housing benefit if their payment is a condition of occupying the home.

  • Changes in circumstances

    Claimants must timely notify the local authority of changes in circumstance that affect housing benefit, such as a child leaving home or a couple separating.

  • Recovery of overpayments

    The local authority can recover many, but not all, housing benefit overpayments from the person to whom they were paid

  • Housing benefit appeals

    Affected people can ask the local authority to reconsider its housing benefit decision, appeal to the tribunal or complain to the Ombudsman.