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Check if you can get Housing Benefit

This advice applies to Wales

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 only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if one of the following applies:

  • you or your partner has been getting Pension Credit since before 15 May 2019
  • you live in temporary accommodation
  • your landlord’s a county council, charity or housing association and they give you care or support
  • you get accommodation from a county council, charity or housing association because you need care or support

If you can’t make a new claim for Housing Benefit, you might be able to apply for Universal Credit instead – check if you can claim Universal Credit.

If you got a severe disability premium (SDP)

You can claim Universal Credit even if you were getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP).

You might get an extra amount in your Universal Credit - this is called the ‘transitional element’. 

You’ll get the extra amount if you apply for Universal Credit within a month after you stop getting the benefit with the SDP.

You can’t get the extra amount if you: 

  • were only getting the SDP with Housing Benefit

  • move in with a partner who is claiming Universal Credit

Before 27 January 2021, you couldn’t claim Universal Credit if you were getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with an SDP.

If you applied for Universal Credit before 27 January 2021, talk to an adviser to check what you’re entitled to.

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.

The older partner can still make a new claim for Housing Benefit if both of the following apply:

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

If you’ve been told to claim Universal Credit by a certain date

The Department for Work and Pensions are stopping some people’s benefits and telling them to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you get a letter telling you to claim Universal Credit by a certain deadline, this is a ‘migration notice’. You should claim Universal Credit by the deadline in the migration notice. Your old benefits will stop after the deadline.

You might miss out on some money if you apply after the deadline. 

Check what you should do if you get a migration notice.

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
  • either have less than £16,000 in savings or be getting the guarantee part of Pension Credit

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’ve lived outside the UK

You’ll need to give evidence to show that the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man is your main home. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’. You have to do this even if you’re a British citizen.

Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.

If you’re not a UK citizen

You can only get Housing Benefit if your immigration status lets you claim public funds. In some situations you also need a ‘right to reside’.

You can claim public funds if you have any of the following:

  • British or Irish citizenship
  • settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • indefinite leave - unless you came to the UK on an adult dependent relative visa
  • refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • right of abode

If you have pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme, you can claim public funds - but you also need to show you have a right to reside to get Housing Benefit. Check if you have a right to reside.

If you’ve applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and you’re waiting for a decision,  you can claim public funds - but you also need to show you have a right to reside to get  Housing Benefit. Check if you have a right to reside.

If you have any other immigration status, check if your immigration status lets you claim public funds.

If you rent from someone you know

You can’t get Housing Benefit if you or your partner pays 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 who lives with you

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

  • a close family member who doesn't live with you
  • 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 – this is called ‘taking advantage of Housing Benefit’. It might be taking advantage if for example 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 or your partner has reached State Pension age

You can get Housing Benefit – check your State Pension age on GOV.UK.

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 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 or your partner 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 tenancy longer than 21 years 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 care home, 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 rents 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 – this is called ‘taking advantage of Housing Benefit’. It might be taking advantage if 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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