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Housing benefit explained

Housing benefit is a national benefit that can help you pay your rent if you're on a low income.

If you're of working age - this is normally 16 to state pension age - and claiming benefit for the first time, you need to claim Universal Credit to help with your housing costs.

Claiming housing benefit

To qualify for housing benefit, you must:

  • pay rent to a private landlord or social landlord such as us, the council, or a housing association
  • live in the property where you pay rent
  • qualify for Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit Guarantee, or have a low income

You can't claim housing benefit if you live in the same household as a close relative and you pay rent to them.

Amount you can get

The amount of benefit you get will depend on:

  • the income and capital that you and your partner have
  • your own situation, such as who else lives with you, and whether you're disabled
  • the amount of rent you have to pay

Once you know it is housing benefit you need to claim (not Universal Credit) use entitledto’s free benefit calculator to find out how much you could get.

If you rent your home from a private landlord, we will work out your benefit using the Local Housing Allowance rules. 

Why you might not get housing benefit

We can refuse your claim if we think your rent arrangement:

  • is not commercial, for example because it cannot be lawfully enforced
  • was set up only to get housing benefit or take advantage of housing benefit

We may not be able to pay housing benefit if you:

  • or your partner used to own the home and your ownership ended within the last five years
  • live in your home as a condition of your work or your partner’s work
  • live in your home because you are a part of a religious order that covers your living costs


If you get housing benefit at the moment and become a student, you can go on getting the benefit if any of these apply to you:

  • studying part-time
  • under 19 and on a course below degree level
  • getting Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • you are a single parent
  • you are disabled
  • you and you partner are both full-time students and you have children who depend on you

Students making brand new claims for help towards their housing costs will need to claim Universal Credit. Only students who have children or are disabled can get Universal Credit.