Help with housing costs

Housing Benefit may help you to pay your rent if you are on a low income and in rented accommodation. It can pay for part or all of your rent. The amount of housing benefit you receive will depend on factors such as where you live, your age and how many bedrooms you have. You can usually only claim it if your savings are £16,000 or less.

Housing Benefit is managed by your local authority. If your rent is higher than your housing benefit allowance, you will have to pay the difference. You may be able to get a discretionary housing payment to help with this for a set period of time. If the council decides that the house is too big for your needs, you may have your housing benefits reduced under the under-occupancy rule. Single people aged 25-34 are only entitled to Housing Benefit for shared accommodation. 

In England, Scotland and Wales, this benefit is being gradually replaced by Universal Credit. To find out more, contact your local authority (council).

If you have a mortgage, you may be able to get help with your payments. Speak to a welfare rights adviser about this.

Housing Benefit (Means-tested)

Housing Benefit helps with your rent payments if you have a low income. Your local council is in charge of Housing Benefit.

Important changes

Housing Benefit is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit. The benefit you should apply for will depend on where you live and your situation. For more information, speak to a welfare rights adviser.

Who can claim

You can claim Housing Benefit if you live in social housing or a property rented from a private landlord.

You must:

  • have a low income
  • have savings under £16,000 (unless you get Pension Credit)
  • live in an area where Universal Credit is not available yet – if Universal Credit is available in your area, you should claim that instead.

Most full-time students are not eligible for Housing Benefit, but there are exceptions.

How much you’ll get

The amount of Housing Benefit you may get will depend on:

  • where you live
  • your age
  • who lives with you
  • the number of bedrooms in your home
  • your and your partner’s income and savings
  • any other benefits you get
  • your rent.

If you’re renting from a private landlord, the amount of Housing Benefit you get will be based on Local Housing Allowance rates. These are based on the average local renting cost. Contact your local council for more information.

If your rent is higher than the Local Housing Allowance, you’ll need to pay the difference, but you may also be able to get help through a discretionary housing payment. If your rent is lower than the Local Housing Allowance, you could receive the full amount of your rent, but nothing above that amount.

Limits for single people aged 25–34

Single people aged 25–34 who rent from a private landlord are now only entitled to the Housing Benefit ‘shared accommodation rate’.

In this case, a single person means someone who:

  • isn’t living with someone as a couple
  • doesn’t have dependent children.

The shared accommodation rate is the amount of Housing Benefit you would get if you were renting a single room in a shared house. It is based on the level of local rents for shared properties. Even if you are not in a shared house and are renting somewhere on your own, you are still only entitled to the shared accommodation rate.

Under-occupancy rule (bedroom tax)

People living in local council or housing association accommodation may have their Housing Benefit reduced if the council decides their home is too big for their needs.

This is sometimes called the ‘under-occupancy rule’ or ‘bedroom tax’. You won’t be affected by this change if you’re getting State Pension. A bedroom for an overnight carer may be excluded from the under-occupancy rule in some cases. Speak to a welfare rights adviser if you think this may affect you. You may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover bedroom tax costs.

The benefit cap may also affect the total amount of benefits you get, including Housing Benefit.

For more information, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 to speak to an experienced welfare rights adviser.

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Discretionary Housing Payments

If you receive Housing Benefit, this may not be enough to cover your total rent. If you’re receiving Housing Benefit and are still having problems paying the rest of your rent, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council. Discretionary Housing Payments are awarded for a certain length of time. Your local council should inform you how long you’ve been awarded the payment for.

How to claim

To find out more about Housing Benefit or apply for it, contact your local council. If you’re also applying for Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, the application process for those benefits includes questions about claiming Housing Benefit.

In Northern Ireland

Visit nidirect.gov.uk for information and how to apply.


Help with housing costs (Means-tested)

You might be able to get extra help with your mortgage interest payments if you claim:

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit.

These benefits may also cover other housing costs, such as service charges and ground rent. It’s a good idea to get advice from an experienced welfare rights adviser about whether you could access this help.

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Back to Help with bills and housing costs

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