What you'll get

You may get help with all or part of your rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.

Use a benefits calculator to work out what you could get or check what extra help is available.

Council and social housing rent

How much you get depends on:

  • your ‘eligible’ rent
  • if you have a spare room
  • your household income - including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)
  • your circumstances, for example the age of people in the house or if someone has a disability

Eligible rent

Your eligible rent is the amount used to calculate your Housing Benefit claim. It’s your actual rent plus any service charges you have to pay (such as for lift maintenance or a communal laundry) but not things like heating or water costs for your home.

Spare bedrooms

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if you live in council or social housing and have a spare bedroom. The reduction is:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 2 or more spare bedrooms

Example

Your eligible rent is £100 per week, but you have 1 spare bedroom. That means your eligible rent is reduced by 14%, to £86 per week. Your Housing Benefit will be calculated using that figure.

Sharing bedrooms

The following are expected to share:

  • an adult couple
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 (regardless of sex)

The following can have their own bedroom:

  • a single adult (16 or over)
  • a child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, for example you have 3 children and 2 already share
  • a couple or children who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
  • an overnight carer for you, your partner, your child or another adult - this is only if the carer does not live with you but sometimes has to stay overnight

One spare bedroom is allowed for:

  • an approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
  • a newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as ‘spare’ if they’re away and intend to return home.

Private rent

If you rent privately, your eligible rent amount is either your Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate or your actual rent, whichever is lower. The LHA rate is based on:

How much you can get

How much you get depends on:

  • the lower figure of your ‘eligible’ rent or LHA rate
  • your household income including benefits, pensions and savings (over £6,000)
  • your circumstances (for example your age or whether you have a disability)

Contact your local council if you’re living in:

  • a houseboat or a mooring
  • a caravan site
  • a room with any meals included in the rent (sometimes known as a boarding home)
  • a hostel
  • a Rent Act protected property

Exception

If you’ve been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, these limits only apply if you:

  • change address
  • have a break in your claim for Housing Benefit

How you’re paid

The way you get paid Housing Benefit by your council depends on the type of tenant you are.

If you’re a:

  • council tenant, it’s paid into your rent account (you will not receive the money)
  • private or housing association tenant, it’s paid into your bank or building society account (rarely by cheque)

The benefit cap

The benefit cap limits the total amount of benefit you can get. It applies to most people aged 16 or over who have not reached State Pension age.

If you’re affected, your Housing Benefit will go down to make sure that the total amount of benefit you get is not more than the cap level. Use the benefit cap calculator to find out how the benefit cap affects you.

Appeal a Housing Benefit decision

Contact your local council to appeal a Housing Benefit decision.