Housing benefit is a national welfare benefit that helps people on a low income pay the rent for the home they live in.
Who can apply?
You can claim housing benefit if you’re renting your home and are on a low income (even if you are working). You must live in the UK, occupy your home, and be paying rent on it. Your joint finances will be assessed in cases where you have a partner.
You can't claim housing benefit if:
- you're not liable to pay rent
- you have more than £16,000 in capital (either you or your partner, or you and your partner together unless you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit)
- you live in a nursing home or residential care home
- you're a full time student in higher education (unless you are in an exempt category, for example single parents)
- you're living in the same household and paying rent to a close relative, an in-law or employer
- you rent a former joint home from your ex-partner
- you're the parent or guardian of your landlord's child
- you receive Universal Credit
How to apply
You can find out if you qualify for some help before filling in your form by using our calculator.
Once you've used the calculator to work out if you qualify, you can fill in a housing benefit claim form. The information you have already put into the calculator will be automatically saved into your claim form, so you won't need to type your details in again.
You can use the same form to apply for council tax support
You’ll need to have the following information available:
- details of the income and benefits received by each person in your home
(if you don’t have payslips, or you’ve recently changed jobs, ask your employer to fill in our online certificate of earnings form)
- details of your Local Housing Allowance
- the total balances for all your accounts (this includes any savings, post office or current), for you and your partner, if applicable
- the amount of council tax you are charged per year
- the amount of rent you are charged
- if you are self-employed, please fill in our self-employed earnings form
- if you have returned to live in the UK within the last two years you must fill in our habitual residence form to prove that you’re entitled to make a claim for benefit
- if you or your partner, or any children you are claiming for own another property or land, either in the UK or abroad, you’ll need to fill in our online property and land valuation form.
Sending us your evidence
At the end of the application form it will tell you what evidence we need to support your claim and if we want original documents or copies. If you need to provide original documents you can contact us to make an appointment to see an adviser in one of our local offices. Copy documents can be uploaded using the evidence attachment form. You’ll have one month from the date you have applied to provide your evidence.
Acting as an appointee
If you have the authority to deal with a person’s financial affairs, you need to fill in our form to request to be an appointee.
When we’ve received all the information we need from you, we’ll work out how much benefit you're entitled to and contact you with the details. This will normally take up to ten working days.
The date we start your claim for housing benefit is usually the earliest of the following:
- the Monday after the date you first told us you wanted to claim
- the Monday after the date your application is received by us
If you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit your claim can be automatically backdated for a maximum of three months.
If you are of working age and want your claim to be backdated you need to tell us why you could not claim earlier. Read more about the rules for backdating housing benefit
How your housing benefit is paid
You can see the details of your housing benefit claim and payments by registering for an online account in My Bentax.
If you live in a council property your benefit is paid into your rent account every week.
If you live in any other social rented accommodation you can choose to have your benefit paid into your bank account, a building society account or credit union account.
You can also have it paid directly to your landlord.
If you live in a private rented property, most claims since 7 April 2008 are paid under the Local Housing Allowance rules. This means that we'll pay your housing benefit into your bank account once a month. We may be able to pay it direct to your landlord in some circumstances.
Housing benefit on two homes
We can normally only pay housing benefit for the property that you live in as your home. There may be special circumstances where you can apply for housing benefit for two homes for up to four weeks, if you have moved into a new home and:
- the liability to make payments on both properties is unavoidable
- the liability to make payments on your previous home is unavoidable