Applying for Universal Credit to help pay your rent
Universal Credit is a benefit that can help pay your rent and other living costs.
You could claim if you're on a low income or have no income.
Universal Credit has replaced Housing Benefit for most people. You may still be able to apply for Housing Benefit if:
you’ve reached State Pension age
you live in supported, sheltered or temporary accommodation
Check if you can get Universal Credit
To get Universal Credit, you usually must:
be over 18 and under State Pension age
live in the UK
have less than £16,000 in savings
Even if you’re in work, you could be entitled to claim if you’re on a low income.
If you’re already getting other benefits
Some benefits could stop if you apply for Universal Credit, and there’s a risk you could get less money overall.
To check if you’ll be better off, contact the Help to Claim service at Citizens Advice.
If you’re not a British or Irish citizen
Your benefits entitlement depends on your immigration status. You can usually get Universal Credit 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.
Check how much you can get
The total amount you'll get on Universal Credit depends on your income and your circumstances. For example, you could get extra help if you have children or you’re disabled.
Use the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator to check how much you could get overall.
How much you'll get for rent
Housing costs are included in your Universal Credit claim. This is called the housing element.
If you rent from the council or housing association, the housing element 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 element could be reduced if:
you or your partner have income from work
you live with other adults who count as non-dependants
you're affected by the benefit cap or the bedroom tax
How to apply for Universal Credit
You can apply for Universal Credit on GOV.UK. You’ll need to provide information about:
your income and savings
people who live with you
any circumstances that affect your living costs, like disabilities or childcare
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.
If you need help applying, contact the Help to Claim service at Citizens Advice. They can help you fill in forms, prepare for appointments, and check that your evidence is correct.
How long it takes
You’ll usually get your first payment 5 weeks after you apply.
If you need the money sooner, you can ask for an advance payment. To pay this back, some money will be deducted from your benefits each month for 24 months. Check how to get an advance payment on GOV.UK.
If you’re struggling to pay your rent, talk to your landlord as soon as possible. Tell them you’re claiming Universal Credit and are waiting for the first payment. Check our guidance if you have rent arrears.
If you’re moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit
You’ll keep getting Housing Benefit for 2 weeks after you apply for Universal Credit. This helps with your costs while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment.
How Universal Credit is paid
You’ll receive a single benefit payment into your bank account once a month. You need to pay the rent to your landlord.
You can ask for your housing costs to be paid directly to your landlord. This can make it easier to budget and help you avoid falling behind on rent.
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 in your online account 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
any changes to your or your partner’s other benefits, pensions, savings or investments
You should also report any changes in your bank details or contact details.
If you disagree with a Universal Credit decision
You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered. If the decision does not change, you can make an appeal. You must do this within 1 month of the decision date.
Step 1: ask for a mandatory reconsideration
On GOV.UK you can either:
write a message in your online journal
download a mandatory reconsideration request form and send it to the address on your decision letter
Explain why you think the decision was wrong, and provide evidence if possible.
You’ll receive a letter that says whether the decision has been changed.
Step 2: make an appeal
If the decision is not changed, you can appeal. On GOV.UK you can either:
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 with appealing a Universal Credit decision.
Last updated: 4 October 2022