If you rent from a family member

You may not be able to claim Housing Benefit or housing costs for Universal Credit if you pay rent to a family member or partner.

If you live with a family member

If you live with a close relative, you won't be able to get Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs, even if you are paying them rent.

A close relative is a:

  • husband or wife

  • civil partner

  • 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.

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 might be entitled to help with your rent. However, there are a couple of things the Universal Credit or Housing Benefit department will want to check:

  • is the tenancy 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.

  • if you rent from your partner or former partner - you won't be able to claim, even if your tenancy is set up on a commercial basis.

  • has the tenancy been set up to take advantage of the 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 benefits) but not when you are working (and earning too much), this would be a contrived tenancy.

What if my application is turned down?

If there are any problems with your application you have the right to appeal the decision.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 11 January 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England