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Changes you should tell the housing benefit department about

If you are getting housing benefit and your circumstances have changed, it may affect the amount of benefit that you can claim. Find out which changes you have to tell the housing benefit department about.

What happens if my circumstances change?

If you have any change in your circumstances that may affect the amount of benefit you receive, you should notify the housing benefit benefit department immediately. If you don't, you could end up being paid too much benefit and having to pay it back. You never know - you might be entitled to more benefit.

If your change of circumstances does affect the amount of benefit you receive, this may be effective either immediately or on the Monday after the change took place.

What is a change of circumstances?

You must tell the housing benefit department about:

Changes to your rent

If your rent changes the amount of housing benefit you'll receive will probably change. You should also tell the council if your landlord receives a rent penalty notice and you don't need to pay any rent for a period of time.

Changes to who lives with you

You need to tell the council if:

  • you marry, enter a civil partnership, start cohabiting, divorce or separate
  • someone moves out or into your house
  • you move house
  • you have a baby or adopt
  • someone in your household dies
  • someone in your household becomes a student
  • you sublet your house
  • you take in a lodger
  • someone goes into, or comes out of, hospital or prison
  • you are going to be away from your home for a while, for example working away or going on an extended holiday.

Changes to financial circumstances

You must inform the council If you (or someone living with you):

  • stop or start receiving another benefit
  • move to another benefit, for example, from employment and support allowance to jobseeker's allowance
  • have a change to the amount of benefit or tax credit you get
  • have to pay back money to working or child tax credit
  • have an increase or decrease to your savings
  • have a change to the amount of pension you get.

You need to report any changes to you or your partner's income, but you don't need to report changes to the benefits you receive due to annual benefits increases.

Changes related to employment and education

You must inform the council If you (or someone living with you):

  • becomes a student
  • gets a job or change job
  • changes hours or gets a pay rise.
  • are off work and receiving statutory sick pay or reduced pay.

Changes related to children

You must inform the council if:

  • someone in your household has a baby
  • a child in your house turns 16
  • a child in your house leaves school
  • you start or stop receiving benefit for a child.

How do I tell the council that my circumstances have changed?

To report a change in your circumstances, write to your council to tell the housing benefit department of the change as soon as possible. It's best to deliver the letter yourself and ask for a receipt and keep this in a safe place. If this is not possible, post a copy of the letter by recorded delivery. This will help avoid problems if it gets lost.

If a recent birth or death could affect your benefits, it may be possible to tell the council about your change of circumstances by telephone or in person. Not all councils will allow this - check first.

Starting work or earning more money - 'extended housing benefit'

If other benefits you receive (such as jobseeker's allowance, income support or employment and support allowance) are stopping because you are returning to work, or will be working more hours or earning more money, you may be entitled to 'extended payment of housing benefit' for an extra four weeks, to help you pay your rent. You can find out more at the GOV.UK website.

What if I get a letter saying I've been overpaid benefit?

An adviser can check if the housing benefit department have made a mistake or help you challenge the decision if the reason you were paid too much benefit was not your fault.

If the council has not made a mistake and you have to pay the money back, they can either send you a bill or take the money off future housing benefit payments or other benefits payments.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're in England

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