Can Universal Credit Help With Rent? Benefits

With Universal Credit replacing a number of benefits, you may find yourself making a claim in the near future. If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you can get help to pay for your housing. We’ve put together the following guide to help you understand what housing payments you’re eligible for.

Paying a private landlord

Housing payments can be applied for to help you whether you’re paying a private landlord or local authority. However, it’s important to note how your circumstances can affect the amount that you receive. Circumstances that can vary the standard housing payment that you are entitled to are as follows:

  • If your household includes someone who is 21 or older
  • If you’re 35 and you live in shared private housing
  • If your home has more than one bedroom
  • If you pay rent on two homes

Living With Someone Aged 21 or Over

If your household includes someone who is 21 or older, you may only be entitled to a reduced payment. However, there are a number of circumstances where you may be able to receive the full payment. If any of the following apply to you, you will not be subject to a reduced amount:

  • You receive the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rate
  • You get the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • You receive Attendance Allowance
  • You get Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • You’re registered as blind

Don’t worry if these don’t apply to you. With the exception of being registered as blind, if any of the above apply to the person aged 21 or over, you may still avoid a reduction. In addition, if any of the following conditions apply to the person aged 21 or over, your payment won’t be reduced:

  • Receive Pension Credit
  • Get Carer’s Allowance
  • Responsible for a child under five
  • Member of the armed forces away on operations, and is your child or step-child
  • Your sub-tenant, lodge or boarder
  • A prisoner

Under 35 and Living In Shared Private Housing

If you’re under 35 years old, live in shared private housing and don’t share a room with a partner, you’ll most likely receive Local Housing Allowance shared accommodation rate (SAR). This is the rent for a single room in a shared house in your area.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to more than the SAR if you:

  • Have a child under 18 or live with someone who’s dependent on you
  • Are a care leaver and under 22
  • Previously lived in a hostel for homeless people for at least three months and you’re aged 25 to 34
  • Have been in prison and you’re aged 25 to 34
  • Are getting the daily living component of PIP
  • Getting the care component of DLA at the middle or highest rate
  • Receiving Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment

Where you live, your household size, your income and your circumstances all get taken into account when working out the maximum amount that you can receive for housing under Universal Credit. If you find yourself paying rent on two homes, Universal Credit housing payments can cover it if either of the following applies:

  • Family member moved out due to fear of violence or abuse, is paying rent somewhere else and intends to come back
  • You’ve started renting a new home with a disabled family member but it hasn’t yet been adapted to their needs

Renting from the local authority or housing association

The rules regarding living with anyone aged 21 or over remain the same if you rent from the local authority or housing association. However, there are some differences that renting from the local authority or housing association bring. One example is an added qualifying statement if you’re paying rent on two properties. When renting from a local authority or housing association, you can also receive housing payment if the housing authority has housed your family in two properties as it’s deemed it large.

Another difference to consider is that your Universal Credit housing payment can be reduced if you have more rooms than you need. This is referred to as ‘removal of the spare room subsidy’ and your payment would be reduced as follows:

  • By 14% if you have one spare bedroom
  • By 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms

How do I apply for housing payments?

If you’re already receiving Universal Credit, you can apply for housing payments in your online account. However, if you haven’t yet applied for Universal Credit, you’ll need to do this before being able to apply for housing payments. Once you’ve applied, you may be required to attend an interview at your local JobCentre Plus. If you need to make an appointment, you’ll be informed and it will usually be within seven days of the request being submitted.

You may be asked to bring evidence with you to your interview. This could include any of the following:

  • Current tenancy agreement, rent statement or rent book
  • Signed letter from your landlord (stating that you live there, pay rent and living there legally)
  • Details of service charges you’re responsible for
  • Current mortgage agreement, statement or bank statement showing mortgage payments
  • Details of any loan agreements secured on your property

Once approved, you will have the option to have the housing payment paid directly to your landlord. They will be notified if this option is chosen. Your online account should show an estimated payment date within three weeks of making a claim.

Get help with your claim

If you have any questions regarding Universal Credit or what you may be entitled to, contact us or read our guide to Universal Credit. At Building Better Opportunities, we can help offer a whole package of support to help you find out what kind of benefits are available to you.

We are a lottery-funded organisation that’s dedicated to supporting individuals, couples and families across Stafford and South Staffordshire with their finances, employment status and their health and wellbeing. Contact us or visit your nearest Work Club for more help.