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    Housing benefit

    This section provides information about housing benefit.

    It covers eligibility for housing benefit, how to claim, how the amount of benefit is calculated, applicable benefit rates, payments, backdating, and overpayments.

    Housing benefit overview

    Housing benefit is a national scheme to assist those on low incomes to meet their rent payments. 

    Housing benefit eligibility

    This section describes which claimants are eligible for housing benefit. 

    Ineligible claimants

    This section looks at categories of people excluded from claiming Housing Benefit. 

    Treated as not liable for rent

    In order to obtain Housing Benefit it is necessary to be counted as liable to pay rent. The following are treated as not liable for rent (and so cannot get Housing Benefit) 

    Payments before moving to a new home

    Information on situations where housing benefit will be paid before a claimant moves into a new home. 

    Payments on more than one home

    Situations where housing benefit can be paid on more than one home. 

    Temporary absences from home

    When housing benefit will be paid where the tenant is temporarily absent from home. 

    Eligible rent and rent restriction

    Eligible rent is the amount used for the calculation of benefit. In some situations this will be the same as the actual rent due to the landlord, but in other cases the local authority restricts the eligible rent after taking account of certain factors. 

    Restrictions on rent for private tenants

    There are different rules restricting the maximum amount of housing benefit a claimant can receive for some private tenants who are not assessed under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme 

    Social tenants 'bedroom tax'

    If a social tenant of working-age who is claiming housing benefit is deemed to be under-occupying their accommodation, their housing benefit will be reduced. This is commonly referred to as ‘the bedroom tax’. 

    Pre-tenancy determinations

    Tenants who may be subject to restrictions on their rent can apply to the local authority for a 'pre-tenancy determination', which sets the rent figure that will be used in calculating Housing Benefit. 

    Service charges

    This section looks at those service charges that can be paid for by Housing Benefit. 

    Calculating housing benefit

    Housing benefit is calculated by completing a number of stages. Full information about the figures used to calculate housing benefit is not included in this section. 

    Income and capital

    Calculation of Housing Benefit will be based on any financial resources the applicant may have, including income and capital. 

    Calculation overview

    Housing benefit is calculated by completing several stages. 

    Non-dependant deductions

    Housing benefit can be reduced if an adult is living with the claimant in her/his home, and is not jointly responsible for paying the rent. 

    Making a housing benefit claim

    The section explains how to make a claim for housing benefit. 

    How housing benefit is paid

    There are different arrangements for paying housing benefit, depending on when the claim begins and from whom the tenant rents the property. 

    Payment of housing benefit

    How and when housing benefit is paid differs depending on whether the tenant is a local authority tenant or a private or housing association tenant. 

    Housing benefit award date

    This section explains that housing benefit is not always paid from the date that the claim was made. 

    How long an award lasts

    How long an award of housing benefit lasts and the date on which an entitlement ends. 

    Payments on account

    If, having received all the necessary information, the housing benefit department is unable to start paying Housing Benefit, it should make an interim payment. This is known as a 'payment on account'. 

    Extended payments

    Extended payments are intended to help long-term unemployed people who are returning to work. 

    Backdated claims

    Where a claimant can demonstrate a good reason for not making a claim for a period during which s/he was entitled to housing benefit, the local authority must backdate the claim. 

    Change of circumstances

    It is a claimant's duty to report to the housing benefit department any change of circumstances that might affect entitlement to housing benefit. 


    This section looks at what happens if the claimant receives an overpayment of housing benefit. 


    What happens if there is an underpayment of housing benefit 

    Appealing decisions

    This section looks at the options available to claimants who are unhappy with the result of a housing benefit decision. 

    Complaints to the ombudsman

    This section looks at making a complaint to the ombudsman. 

    Housing benefit and antisocial behaviour

    Antisocial behaviour legislation has introduced a number of measures that may affect a tenant's entitlement to housing benefit. 

    Rent penalty notices


    This content applies to Scotland

    Last updated: 2 August 2017