Universal credit housing costs element liability condition

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

This content applies to England

People treated as liable

To receive the housing cost element of universal credit, the claimant must be treated as liable to make the payments in respect of the accommodation.[1]

A person can also be treated as liable for payments if:[2]

  • they are a member of a couple with the person who is liable but have to claim as a single person because the other person is not eligible for universal credit, eg where they have no recourse to public funds

  • 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

  • liability to make payments has been waived by the landlord as compensation for repair or redecoration work, that the claimant carried out themselves

  • where a rent-free period is allowed for as part of the tenancy or occupancy agreement

A person can also be treated as liable for payments if the person who is liable to make payments is not doing so and all of the following apply:

  • the claimant needs to make the payments to continue to live in the accommodation

  • it is unreasonable to expect them to make other arrangements

  • it is reasonable to treat the claimant as being liable to make the payments

In a housing benefit case, it was held that a claimant who moved into a property as a caretaker after the tenant went to prison could not be treated as liable for rent.[3]

People not treated as liable

Certain people who make payments for their home are treated as not liable to make housing cost payments and are not entitled to the housing cost element of universal credit.

A person is treated as not liable to make payments if:[4]

  • they make payments to a close relative who lives in the same property

  • 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 liability to pay housing costs was contrived in order to receive payments of universal credit

If 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.

A close relative is a:[5]

  • partner

  • child or young person for whom the claimant receives child benefit

  • parent

  • brother

  • sister

  • step-parent

  • step-child

  • in-law 

  • partner of one of these persons

Last updated: 5 May 2022

Footnotes

  • [1]

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

  • [2]

    sch 2, part 1 Universal Credit Regulations 2013/376.

  • [3]

    ZD v London Borough of Hillingdon (HB) [2021] UKUT 305 (AAC) - CH/990/2020.

  • [4]

    sch 2, part 2 Universal Credit Regulations 2013/376.

  • [5]

    reg 2 Universal Credit Regulations 2013/376.