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Social Housing - can I get help with my rent?

If you are a tenant of a private landlord, landlady, a housing association, hostel or guesthouse you may be able to claim rent allowance. This allowance is often called Housing Benefit and does not depend on you claiming any other benefits.

What is housing benefit?
Housing benefit is money paid by your local council to help with your rent if you are on a low income. All low-income benefits are means tested – this means that you will have to prove that you don’t have enough money to live on.

Housing Benefit may also provide you with some extra money towards other things that you may have to pay for alongside the rent, such as children’s play areas or the cleaning of communal areas.

It doesn’t pay for general things like water charges, food or heating, even if these are included in the cost of your rent.

Thinking of applying? Here are eight facts you should know:

1. Only one person within the accommodation can claim housing benefit

2. If you have more than £16,000 in savings, unless you are aged 60 or over and getting the ‘guarantee credit’ of pension credit, you can’t usually claim housing benefit.

3. If you have savings of more than £3,000, this may affect how much housing benefit you will receive.

4. There are separate rules for Housing Benefit if you are aged 25 years or under and single.

5. If you arrived in the UK within five years of your claim, this may affect your housing benefit.

6. Some asylum seekers and people who are sponsored to be in the UK cannot get housing benefit

7. You cannot usually get housing benefit if you live in a close relative’s household.

8. You cannot usually get housing benefit if you are a full-time student, unless you are disabled or have children.

How is housing benefit worked out?
If you apply for housing benefit, the council will look at the money coming in to your household including:

  • Earnings
  • Other benefits you receive
  • Things like occupational pensions

You and your partner’s savings will also be considered as will your personal circumstances such as your age, the ages and size of your family, whether you or any of your family are disabled and whether anyone who lives with you could help with the rent.

The council will also take into consideration the amount of rent and whether this is reasonable for your particular home, whether your home is of a reasonable size for you and your family and whether the amount of rent is reasonable for the area.

For more detailed information you should contact your local council or social security office.

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