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Check if you can get Housing Benefit

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You might be able to get Housing Benefit to help pay your rent if you’re on a low income or you claim benefits. Housing Benefit is paid by your local council.

If you own your home, check if you can get help to pay your mortgage interest instead.

Most people can’t make a new claim for Housing Benefit.

You can make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you’re getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP).

Check your award letter to see if you’re getting an SDP. You might be getting an SDP with:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income Support

  • Housing Benefit

If you’re not getting an SDP you can check if you’re eligible for an SDP on GOV.UK.

If you recently stopped getting a benefit with an SDP, and you’re still eligible for an SDP, you can make a new claim for Housing Benefit. You must claim within a month of your old benefit stopping.

If you’re eligible for an SDP but it’s not included in your current benefit, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

You can also make a new claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies:

  • your landlord’s a county council, charity or housing association and they give you care or support - for example if you live in sheltered housing

If you’ve got a partner and only one of you has reached State Pension age

If you’re already getting Housing Benefit, you’ll keep getting it unless your circumstances change.

If the older partner reached State Pension age before 15 May 2019, they can still make a new claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies:

  • they ask for their Housing Benefit to be backdated to before 15 May - they’ll need to apply by 13 August 2019

  • they’ve been claiming Pension Credit since before 15 May 2019

If you or your partner are getting or recently stopped getting an SDP

The government and the local council should treat the older partner as if they were under State Pension age - this means you can keep getting:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit

If you can’t make a new claim for Housing Benefit, check if you can apply for Universal Credit instead. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you’re not sure if you can make a claim for Housing Benefit.

Check who can get Housing Benefit

To claim Housing Benefit you usually have to:

  • have a low income or be claiming other benefits
  • be at least 16 years old - if you’ve been in care you’ll need to be at least 18
  • have less than £16,000 in savings

You also need to live mainly in the UK. If you’ve lived abroad recently or are thinking of moving out of the UK, check if you’re habitually resident.

If you live with your partner, only one of you needs to claim Housing Benefit - it doesn’t usually matter who makes the claim.

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.

There are other circumstances that might affect whether or not you can get Housing Benefit.

If you’re not a UK citizen

If you're from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more you can apply for ‘settled status’. If you have settled status you’re more likely to be able to apply for Housing Benefit.

To get settled status you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme - check how to apply for settled status.

If you don’t have settled status you might still be able to get Housing Benefit - but your payments might stop if you don’t have settled status by 31 December 2020.

If you don’t have settled status, you’ll need to give evidence that shows:

  • you have a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’ and depends on things like your work, family and personal situation

  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’

If you have a right to reside, you might not need to show you’re habitually resident - check if you have a right to reside.

If you’re from a country outside Europe

You can apply for Housing Benefit as long as you’re not subject to immigration control.

You’ll also need to meet or be exempt from the ‘habitual residence test’.

If you’re an asylum seeker

You can claim Housing Benefit if your asylum application has succeeded.

You can’t claim Housing Benefit if you’re waiting for a decision on an asylum application. You might be eligible for asylum support instead.

If you rent from someone you know

You can’t get Housing Benefit if you or your partner pay rent to:

  • a parent of a child who lives with you
  • an ex-partner, for the home you used to live in together
  • a close family member you’re living with

You might be able to get Housing Benefit if you pay rent to:

  • a close family member who lives somewhere else
  • a friend or more distant family member like a grandparent - even if you live in the same home
  • someone who used to let you live in the property rent free

To get Housing Benefit, you’ll need to show the council evidence it’s a ‘commercial’ rental agreement - like one between a housing association and a tenant. For example, they might ask to see your contract or proof that you’re paying rent. They might also ask for other evidence, like a deposit you paid when you moved in or a gas safety certificate from your landlord.

Your local council might decide you’re not eligible if they think you’re only paying rent to get Housing Benefit. For example, if you’ve been living with a friend and have only just started paying them rent.

If you’re a student

If you’re studying part-time, you can usually get Housing Benefit. If you live in university-owned housing or halls of residence, the rules are complicated - you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’re studying full time, you can only get Housing Benefit in certain situations.

If you’re not in higher education (like a degree course or teacher training)

You can claim Housing Benefit if you’re under 22 and your course started before you turned 21.

If you get benefits

You can get Housing Benefit if you get:

  • Income Support
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Universal Credit, unless your Universal Credit includes an amount for housing costs
  • a disability benefit like Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance

If you've got children

You can get Housing Benefit if:

  • you’re a single parent
  • you’re a single foster carer and have a child placed with you
  • you and your partner are both full-time students and you have children

If you’re disabled

You can get Housing Benefit if:

  • the council decides you have ‘limited capability for work’ and have had it for 28 weeks - if you had an assessment for ESA or Universal Credit they’ll use the same results
  • you’re deaf and get a Disabled Students’ Allowance
  • you’re registered as severely sight impaired or blind

If you took time off your course because you were ill or caring for someone

You can usually get Housing Benefit once you’re no longer ill or caring for someone, as long as you’re waiting to go back to your course. You can’t get Housing Benefit if you’re living in university-owned accommodation or halls of residence.

If you're living with a partner who isn't a student

If your partner claims Housing Benefit, they can include you in their claim.

If you’re temporarily away from home

You can still get Housing Benefit as long as you plan to return to your home and don’t rent it out while you’re away. How long you can get Housing Benefit for depends on why you’re away.

If you’re staying in England, Scotland or Wales

You can get Housing Benefit if you go away for up to 13 weeks.

You can get Housing Benefit if you’re away for up to a year because:

  • you, your partner or child are in hospital or getting treatment or care that’s approved by your doctor
  • you’re looking after someone else’s child while they’re away getting treatment
  • you’re temporarily staying in a care home - for example to try it out
  • you’re giving someone care that’s approved by their doctor
  • you’ve had to leave your home because you’re worried someone might hurt you - for example your partner
  • you’re a student and live somewhere different during term time
  • you’re on a training course
  • you’re in prison on remand or waiting to be sentenced
  • you have to live away from home as a condition of bail

If you’ve had to leave your home suddenly, you might also be able to get Housing Benefit to cover the cost of a hostel.

If you go abroad

You can usually get Housing Benefit when you go away for up to 4 weeks. You can get it for up to 8 weeks if you’re abroad because a close relative has died.

You can get Housing Benefit if you’re abroad for up to 26 weeks because:

  • you, your partner or child are in hospital or getting treatment or care that’s approved by your doctor
  • you’re temporarily staying in a care home - for example to try it out
  • you’ve had to leave your home because you’re worried someone might hurt you - for example your partner
  • you or your partner are a member of the armed forces on a temporary placement
  • you or your partner are a sailor or work on an oil platform

If you pay rent as part of a shared ownership scheme

You can get Housing Benefit for the rent you pay as part of a shared ownership scheme. You’ll need to ask for a written rental agreement with the organisation running the scheme, if you don’t already have one.

If you have a mortgage for the rest of the property, you might be able to get a government loan to help to pay the mortgage interest. The government loan is called ‘support for mortgage interest’ (SMI).

To get SMI, you’ll also need to get:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Credit

If you already get one of these benefits, find out if you can get SMI.

If you don’t get one of these benefits, use the Turn2us benefits checker to find out what benefits you could get.

If you used to own the home you’re renting

You can get Housing Benefit if you sold your home over 5 years ago.

If you sold your home in the last 5 years, you can still get Housing Benefit if you had to sell it so you could stay living there - for example if the mortgage lender wanted to repossess your home.

If you’re a Crown tenant, have a long tenancy or a co-ownership agreement

You can’t usually get Housing Benefit, but you might be able to get help with your rent from these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Credit

Use the Turn2us benefits checker to find out what benefits you could get.

If you rent from a company, trust or religious order

You can’t get Housing Benefit if:

  • it’s to pay rent to a care home

  • you or your partner are renting your home from your employer as part of your job - for example if you work for a hotel and live on site

  • you’re part of a religious order that pays your living costs

You might be able to get Housing Benefit if you pay rent to a company you, your partner or a close relative who lives with you works for - including as a director.

To get Housing Benefit, you’ll need to show the council evidence it’s a ‘commercial’ rental agreement - like one between a housing association and a tenant. For example, they might ask to see your contract or proof that you’re paying rent. They might also ask for other evidence, like a deposit you paid when you moved in or a gas safety certificate from your landlord.

Your local council might decide you’re not eligible if they think you’re only paying rent to get Housing Benefit. For example, if you’ve been living in your home for some time and your company’s only just started charging you rent.

If your landlord’s a trust, the rules are complicated - you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

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