What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a form of financial support given to people who struggle to pay rent because of their low income, whether they work or not does not effect this.

Check that you’re eligible for Housing Benefit by using a Benefits Calculator. You may need to claim Universal Credit instead.

An overview of Housing Benefit

You can get Housing Benefit to pay for part or all of your rent if you’re on a low income. How much you get depends on your circumstances.

You may get Housing Benefit if:

  • You pay rent
  • You’re on a low income or claiming benefits
  • Your savings are below a certain level – usually £16,000

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you’re unemployed or working. However, if you live with a partner, only one of you can get Housing Benefit.

Housing Benefit cannot be paid for heating, hot water, energy or food. If you need help in these areas, use our Benefits Calculator to see what else you might be entitled to.

How much might I get?

There is no set amount of Housing Benefit, and what you get depends on whether you rent privately or from a council.

You may get help with some or all of your rent. A Benefits Calculator can help you estimate how much you would get from Housing Benefit.

Ell your council if your circumstances change as this can affect how much you get. For example, a child leaves school, your rent changes or you go away for more than one month.

Usually, you will not get Housing Benefit if:

  • Your savings are over 16,000 – unless you get Gaurantee credit of Pension Credit
  • You live in the home of a close relative
  • You’re a full-time student – unless you’re disabled or have children
  • If you’re residing in the UK as an European Economic Area jobseeker
  • You’re an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
  • You’re subject to immigration control and your granted leave states you cannot claim public funds

You usually cannot get Housing Benefit and Universal Credit at the same time (unless you’re in certain kinds of supported housing). 

Council and social housing rent

There are several things that will be considered when assessing your need for Housing Benefit, including:

Eligible rent – The reasonable rent for a suitable property in your area. It includes service charges (such as lift maintenance or communal laundry) but not things like heating.

Spare bedrooms – Housing Benefits can be reduced if you live in council or social housing and have a spare bedroom. The reduction is:

  • 14% of eligible rent for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the eligible rent for 2 or more spare bedrooms

Example: Your ‘eligible rent’ is £100 per week. Housing Benefit pays £50 and you pay £50. You have one spare bedroom so the reduction is 14%; this means your housing benefit will be £36 a week instead and you owe £64.

Sharing bedrooms – To assess whether the property you stay in is appropriate, there are certain rules about sharing bedrooms:

The following are expected to share:

  • An adult couple
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 regardless of sex

The following can have their own room:

  • A single adult aged 16 or over
  • A child that would normally share, but shared bedrooms are already taken (for example, you have three children and two already share)
  • A couple or children who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
  • An overnight carer for you, your partner, your child or another adult – this is only if the carer does not live with you but sometimes has to stay the night

One spare bedroom is allowed for:

  • An approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
  • A newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as ‘spare’ if they’re away and intend to return home. 

Household income – Including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)

Circumstances – For example age of people in the house or if someone has a disability

Private rent

Private rent

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to work out Housing Benefit for tenants who rent privately. How much you get is usually based on:

You can get:

Your circumstances

Hours a week

1 bedroom (or shared accommodation)

Up to £268.46 per week

2 bedrooms

Up to £311.40 per week

3 bedrooms

Up to £365.09 per week

4 bedrooms

Up to £429.53 per week

If you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, these limits only apply if you change address or have a break in your claim for Housing benefit.

You will need to contact your local council if you’re living in:

  • A houseboat or mooring
  • A caravan site
  • A room with any meals included in the rent (boarding home)
  • A hostel
  • A rent Act protected Property
How will I be paid?

Council tenants will have money paid directly into their rent account – they will not receive it.

Private tenants money goes into the bank or building society account for them to pass on.

The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that your total amount of benefit s no more than the cap level. Use the Benefits Calculator to find out how the cap might affect you.

How do I claim for Housing Benefit?

How you claim for Housing Benefit depends on whether you’re also making a new claim for any other benefits.

You’ll need to provide evidence to support your claim and you may need to claim Universal Credit instead. Check that you’re eligible before you apply.

If you’re only applying for Housing Benefit:

Apply through your local council if you’re only making a new claim for Housing Benefit. You can still make a new claim if you’re already getting other benefits.

If you’re applying for other benefits:

You can claim Housing Benefit as part of your application for other benefits. How you apply for Housing Benefits depends on which benefit you’re applying for.

Contact Jobcentre Plus to claim Housing Benefit along with your application for the benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobcentre Plus will send details of your claim for Housing Benefit to your council.

Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

What happens if I own my house?

You cannot get Housing Benefit if you own your home. However you may be able to get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). 

What should I do next?

Before you apply for Housing Benefits for your child, make sure you’re fully informed about the benefits you’re entitled to. Take a look at these resources: