How to claim Housing Benefit
You might be able to get Housing Benefit to help pay your rent if you’re on a low income or you claim benefits - but most people have to claim Universal Credit instead. You should check if you can get Housing Benefit before you apply.
If your Housing Benefit doesn’t cover your rent, you might also be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). A DHP is an extra payment to help you pay your rent.
Applying for Housing Benefit in your area
You usually need to apply through your local council.
Check your local council’s website to find out how to apply. You can find your local council’s website on GOV.UK. The website should also say if you can get any extra help with applying - for example, you might be able to apply in person if you’d find it difficult to apply online.
If you’re applying for Pension Credit you can tell the Pension Service you'd like to apply for Housing Benefit at the same time.
The Pension Service should send your completed form to your local council.
If you live with your partner
Only one of you needs to claim Housing Benefit.
You’ll need to put your and your partner’s details on the form. Your local council will look at both your incomes to decide how much Housing Benefit you’ll get.
If one of you gets ESA, it’s usually best for the other partner to claim Housing Benefit. Otherwise there’s a chance you’ll get less money.
If no-one gets ESA, It doesn’t usually matter who makes the claim for Housing Benefit.
Filling in the form
Be as specific as you can when you’re answering the questions. It’s a good idea to gather all the information you’ll need before you start. For example, check how much you earn and whose name is written on your tenancy agreement.
If your income changes, explain how much you think you’re going to get and over what period of time. It’s OK to give an estimate - just let the council know.
If you get other benefits
Make sure you include details of any other benefits you get. It might mean you’re automatically entitled to the maximum amount of Housing Benefit.
If the form doesn’t ask about your other benefits, write on a separate piece of paper:
- the benefits you get
- how long you’ve been claiming them
- how much you get each week in benefit payments
If you pay a service charge
Include details of service charges you pay for things like collecting rubbish or cleaning shared areas outside your flat. You might get Housing Benefit to cover the charges if:
- it’s a service for the whole building - not just your flat
- you have to pay the charge to live in the building
Housing Benefit won’t cover service charges that are just for you or your home - like meals or heating for your flat. You can use the Turn2us benefit calculator to find out what other help you could get with these charges.
If you were eligible for Housing Benefit before you applied
Ask for your Housing Benefit to be backdated when you apply.
The form should have a section about backdating - it’s sometimes called a ‘late claim’.
If there isn’t a section about backdating or late claims, write on a separate piece of paper:
- the date you became eligible for Housing Benefit - and want your claim backdated to
- the reason you couldn’t claim earlier
Your claim can be backdated for up to a month if you’re under State Pension age. You'll need a good reason for not claiming earlier - for example if a close relative died or the council gave you the wrong advice about Housing Benefit. You can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK.
If you’re over State Pension age
If you or your partner gets Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA, your claim can be backdated for up to a month. You’ll need a good reason for not claiming earlier - for example if a close relative died or the council gave you the wrong advice about Housing Benefit.
If neither of you gets Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA, your claim can be backdated for up to 3 months. You won’t need to explain why you couldn’t claim earlier.
If you get compensation because you were given Thalidomide or infected blood
Make sure you include details of any money you get from:
a Thalidomide Health Grant
the Infected Blood Scheme (IBS) or Scottish Infected Blood Support Scheme (SIBSS)
You might be getting compensation from the IBS or SIBSS if you had NHS treatment in the 1970s or 1980s and the NHS gave you blood that was infected with HIV or Hepatitis C.
Your payments will be part of the IBS or SIBSS if you used to get them from:
the Caxton Foundation
the Eileen Trust
the Macfarlane Trust
the Skipton Fund
The DWP will ignore this money when they’re working out your income, so you might get more Housing Benefit.
Send the form to your local council
If you live near your local council office, you could deliver the form yourself to save the cost of posting it. Make sure you get a receipt when you hand it in.
If you post the form, ask the Post Office for proof of postage - you might need to prove when you sent it.
If Housing Benefit won’t cover your rent
You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) - this is an extra payment to help you pay your rent for a short time. You won’t have to pay the money back.
You can ask for a DHP:
- as soon as you’ve applied for Housing Benefit
- when the council tell you how much Housing Benefit you’ll get
You can find out how to apply for a DHP.
To get an estimate of how much Housing Benefit you’ll get, you can use the Turn2us benefits checker.
What happens next
If your claim is successful, you should get a letter from your local council telling you how much Housing Benefit you’ll get. Contact your local council and ask for an update if you don’t hear anything after 2 weeks.
The letter should also explain how your Housing Benefit will be paid. For example, it will usually be paid directly to your bank account if you’re a private tenant.
If you rent from your local council, you’ll only have to pay the rent that’s not covered by your Housing Benefit. If Housing Benefit covers all your rent, this means you won’t have to pay rent to the council. You’ll still need to check your rent account regularly to make sure the rent’s being paid.
If your claim is unsuccessful, you should get a letter from your local council telling you why. You can challenge this decision if you think it’s wrong.