How to claim Housing Benefit, who can claim, and backdated claims
Housing Benefit helps you pay part, or all, of your rent if you’re on a low income.
With some exceptions, Housing Benefit has been replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit. For many people, Universal Credit covers housing costs, so you don’t have to make a separate Housing Benefit claim.
Who can claim?
You can claim Housing Benefit if you rent your home, are on a low income and:
- you're pension age*
- you're living in temporary or supported accommodation
*If you've got a partner, you'll be able to claim Housing Benefit if you're both pension age. If only one of you is pension age, you'll need to claim Universal Credit instead.
If you don't pay rent, but are named on the Council Tax bill, you may be able to claim Council Tax Support.
If you wish to see if you're eligible for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support before you claim, use our online benefits calculator.
Who can't claim?
Usually you won't be able to claim if:
- you and any partner have more than £16,000 in savings and investments (unless you receive the guarantee element of Pension Credit)
- you rent your home from a close family member who lives in the same house
- you pay rent to a former partner for the home you used to live in together
- you're receiving or are eligible to claim Universal Credit
- you're of working age
- in most cases if you're a full time student in higher education
How to claim
To make a claim for Housing Benefit you'll need to know:
- your National Insurance number
- your income
- what is in your bank accounts
- how much your rent is
- the details of anyone living in your home
By completing our online form we'll also see if you're entitled to Council Tax Support.
We'll make a decision on your claim when we have all the evidence we need. We'll contact you if we need further information.
We'll send you a letter to tell you our decision.
What you'll get
How much you get depends on:
- the amount of eligible rent you pay
- how many people live with you
- your personal circumstances
- how much money you have coming in
- how much you have in savings
Housing Benefit may be reduced if:
- there are any non-dependants in your home
- you're the tenant of a Housing Association and have one or more spare bedrooms (Spare Room Deduction)
- you're single and under 35 years (in most cases)
If you rent from a private landlord, how much you get depends on the Local Housing Allowance rate. The Local Housing Allowance may be lower than your actual rent.
How we pay your Housing Benefit
If you're a tenant of a private landlord, we'll pay your benefit direct to your bank account every four weeks in arrears. It may be possible to pay this directly to your landlord if:
- you're more than eight weeks in arrears
- you're unable to deal with your own finances
Claim dates and backdated claims
Your claim will usually start from the Monday after we receive it. We can pay from your tenancy start date if you make your claim:
- before your tenancy begins, or
- by the Sunday after your tenancy begins
If you're pension age, we can backdate your claim for up to three months. You must provide details of your income and capital for the period before you claimed.
If you're under pension age, we can only backdate your claim for a maximum of one month. You must state on your claim form or write to us if you want us to backdate your claim.
You must give a valid reason why you were unable to apply for your benefit earlier. We look at each case individually.