Housing benefit if you rent from a family member
This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
You may not be able to claim housing benefit if you pay rent to a family member or partner.
Housing benefit and living with family members
If you live with a close relative, you won't be able to get housing benefit, even if you are paying them rent.
A close relative is a:
- husband or wife
- civil partner
- parent or stepparent
- father-in-law or mother-in-law
- child or step-child
- son-in-law or daughter-in-law
- brother or sister
- brother-in-law or sister-in-law
- partner of any of the above
In addition, you won't be able to get housing benefit if you or your partner are responsible for a child and your landlord is a parent of that child.
Claiming housing benefit if you rent a property owned by a family member
If you live in a property owned by a family member and pay them rent, you may be entitled to housing benefit. However, there are a couple of things the housing benefit department will want to check whether:
- the tenancy is a 'commercial arrangement' - they'll want to be satisfied that you're paying rent on a commercial basis. In other words, they'll want to know that it's a proper tenancy, not just an informal arrangement between family members. Remember, if you rent from your partner you won't be able to claim housing benefit, even if your tenancy is set up on a commercial basis.
- you are taking advantage of the housing benefit system - has the tenancy been set up to take advantage of the housing benefit system? This is called a 'contrived tenancy'. For example, if your landlord only asks you to pay rent when you are not working (and so eligible for housing benefit) but not when you are working (and earning too much to claim housing benefit), this would be a contrived tenancy.
Housing benefit for disabled people renting from a family member
Housing Options Scotland has produced a useful guide to claiming housing benefit if you're disabled and you want to rent from a family member.