Housing benefit eligibility and how to claim | Age UK

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Housing Benefit

If you're on a low income and struggling to cover your rent, you might be able to claim Housing Benefit.


What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is money to help you cover your rent if you're living on a low income.

You can make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you're State Pension age or over. If you have a partner, you can only usually make a new claim for Housing Benefit when you both reach State Pension age. 

If you and your partner aren't State Pension age and you need help with paying your rent, you can only claim Housing Benefit if you live in supported, sheltered or temporary housing. Otherwise, you'll need to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. 

Find out more about Universal Credit

If you're a mixed age couple and you're already claiming Housing Benefit, then you may find our page on changes to mixed age couple benefits helpful.

Find out more about benefits for mixed age couples


How much Housing Benefit could I get?

Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit, so the amount you get depends on your income and how much you have in savings. It also depends on:


Am I eligible for Housing Benefit?

You could get Housing Benefit if you meet the following requirements:

  • you pay rent
  • you’re on a low income or claiming benefits
  • you have savings of less than £16,000
  • you're over State Pension age.

If you get the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit, your income and savings aren't taken into account – so you may get your rent paid in full by Housing Benefit.

Find out more about Pension Credit

If you or your partner are under State Pension age and aren't already claiming Housing Benefit, you can claim Universal Credit to help pay your rent instead.

If you own your home, you won’t be eligible for Housing Benefit, but you could get a loan from the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme to help you pay for your mortgage interest.

Find out more about Support for Mortgage Interest

Are you entitled to extra money?

Do you know what benefits you're entitled to? Our online benefits calculator can help you quickly and easily find out what you could be claiming.

Get a free benefits check


How to claim Housing Benefit

How to claim Housing Benefit depends on which other benefits you're currently claiming.

If you already claim Pension Credit

Contact the Pension Service to apply for Housing Benefit with your claim for Pension Credit.

If you're not claiming other benefits

Apply for Housing Benefit through your local council. You’ll need to request a claim form – unless your local council accepts online applications.

You'll need to give evidence to go with your claim, such as proof of your identity and of your income and savings, so it's worth gathering this together before you get started.

It's important that you're as specific as you can be when answering the questions in the claim form. 

You can contact your local ͷ or call the Age UK Advice Line on 0800 678 1602 if you need help completing the claim form.

It's a good idea to keep track of your claim – make notes of who you speak to and when, and check that the council has everything they need from you.

It shouldn't take longer than 14 days for the council to contact you and let you know their decision.

If your claim is turned down, ask your local ͷ for help or see our information on how to challenge a benefit decision.

Find out more about how to challenge a benefit decision

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How is Housing Benefit paid?

If you’re a council tenant, Housing Benefit is usually paid directly to your rent account, reducing the rent you actually have to pay. You should check your rent account regularly to make sure it’s being paid.

If you're a private or housing association tenant, your Housing Benefit may be paid into your bank account, or directly to the landlord.


More Housing Benefit questions

Can I claim Housing Benefit if I live in temporary housing?

If you live in temporary accommodation, you can make a new claim for Housing Benefit to help with your rent whether you (and your partner) are under or over State Pension age.

You can't get Universal Credit housing costs help with rent in temporary accommodation. Check with your local council if your home is temporary accommodation.

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What happens to my Housing Benefit if I have spare rooms?

If you rent from a private landlord, your benefit is usually restricted by the Local Housing Allowance rates. The rate you're given depends on the size of your home.

If you rent from a social landlord, like a council or housing association, you might get less benefit if you have one or more spare bedrooms.

If you need an extra room because of a health condition or disability or for an overnight carer, you should make sure the benefit authorities know as this might mean your eligible for more benefit.

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How does the benefit cap affect my Housing Benefit?

The benefit cap means the total amount in benefits you get can't be more than a certain amount. Any benefits that you get above the capped amount will be taken from your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payments.

The amount is higher if you live in London and the cap doesn't affect you if you (and your partner if you have one) are over State Pension age.

Find out more about the benefit cap

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What if I live with non-dependents?

If someone lives with you, other than your partner or dependent children, a fixed amount can be taken off your Housing Benefit payments. This is called a ‘non-dependant deduction’.

There are exceptions so check to see if the deductions apply to you. You can get benefits advice from your local ͷ.

Find your local Age UK

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How many hours can I work on Housing Benefit?

There's no limit on the number of hours you can work on Housing Benefit but, because it's a means-tested benefit, the amount you earn might mean your income is too high to qualify.

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Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ͷs.

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Last updated: May 23 2024

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