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Applying for Housing Benefit

You could get Housing Benefit if you or your partner are State Pension age, or if you're living in temporary or supported housing. You apply through your local council.

Most people should apply for Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit. Your housing costs are included in your Universal Credit payment.

Check if you can get Housing Benefit

You could be eligible if any of these apply to you:

  • you’re single and you're State Pension age

  • you and your partner are both State Pension age

  • you or your partner started claiming Pension Credit before 15 May 2019

  • you live in temporary housing arranged by the council

  • you live in a domestic abuse refuge

  • you live in sheltered or supported housing where you get care, support or supervision

Your eligibility also depends on your income and savings.

Check if you can get Housing Benefit on GOV.UK

If you’re not a British or Irish citizen

Your right to claim benefits depends on your immigration status. You can usually get Housing Benefit or other benefits if you have:

  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • refugee status or humanitarian protection

  • right of abode

  • indefinite leave to remain, unless you’re sponsored by a family member

  • a visa under the Ukraine family scheme or the Homes for Ukraine scheme

If you have a different status, check your rights on Citizens Advice.

If your residence document says “no recourse to public funds”, you cannot get Housing Benefit. Use the NRPF Network's tool to check what support you can get.

How to apply

Find your council's contact details on GOV.UK. The council should give you an application form and tell you where to send it.

You’ll need to provide information and evidence about your rent and service charges, your income and savings, and who you live with.

If you’re applying for Pension Credit, you can apply for Housing Benefit as part of your claim. Apply for Pension Credit on GOV.UK.

Make sure all the information you give is correct. If you're overpaid because of wrong information in your application, you’ll have to pay back the money and you could be fined.

You can apply up to 13 weeks before you need the money. You might be able to get your Housing Benefit backdated in some cases.

Check how much you can get towards your rent

If you rent from the council or housing association, Housing Benefit will usually cover the full cost of your rent.

If you rent privately, the maximum you'll get is based on the Local Housing Allowance rate in your area.

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if:

If Housing Benefit does not cover your full rent

You can apply for Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the difference. The council will tell you if you’re eligible.

Check what other benefits you can get

You could also get other benefits, like Universal Credit or Pension Credit. Use the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator to check what you're entitled to.

Claiming different benefits could affect how much you get overall. Contact a benefits adviser at Citizens Advice to check if you'll be better off.

How Housing Benefit is paid

If you rent from the council, the money automatically goes towards your rent.

If you rent from a housing association or a private landlord, the money will be paid to you every 4 weeks. You’ll need to pay your rent to the landlord when it's due.

If you're having difficulties budgeting, you can ask the council to pay your Housing Benefit directly to your landlord.

If your circumstances change

To make sure you keep getting the right amount, report any changes that might affect your benefits. If you’re overpaid, you could have to pay the money back.

Report these changes to the council as soon as possible:

  • your marital status changes, or you start living with your partner

  • someone moves in or out of your home, including children

  • you move house

  • you start a new job or leave a job

  • you become a student

  • you have a child or become a carer

  • your rent goes up or down

  • your health condition changes or you become disabled

  • your immigration status changes

  • there’s a change in your or your partner’s other benefits, pensions, savings or investments

  • your bank details or contact details change

Use our letter template to report any changes to the council

If you disagree with a Housing Benefit decision

You can challenge the council's decision within 1 month of the date on your decision letter.

Ask for a written explanation

If you’re not sure why the decision was made, ask the council for a written explanation. This can help you decide whether to challenge it.

Ask for a review of the decision

Write to the council and ask them to review the decision. Explain why you think it’s wrong and give evidence if possible.

A different person at the council should consider your claim and look at any new evidence you’ve provided. They may ask you for more information.

You’ll get a letter telling you whether the decision has been changed.

Make an appeal

If the decision is still not changed, ask the council for an appeal form, or write to them saying you want to make an appeal.

Your appeal will be sent to a tribunal. They’ll look at all the evidence and decide if the decision should be changed.

Check Citizens Advice for help to appeal a Housing Benefit decision

Last updated: 16 February 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England