How to get help with rent? Benefits

Are you worried about how you’re going to pay your rent this month? If so, you’re not alone. In any given month, there are thousands of people who run into financial difficulties that may make paying their rent a stretch, or even impossible. 

If you do find yourself in this situation, it’s important to not bury your head in the sand or panic. Instead, make a plan to draw on the help and support available to you in your area. 

Here at Building Better Opportunities, we help people in Staffordshire and South Staffordshire access help in regards to their financial situation and rent payments. Many come to us feeling embarrassed, or ashamed, but leave feeling in control and able to take the best course of action for their situation. 

There are many reasons why you may need help with paying your rent. Perhaps your financial situation has changed due to losing your job, redundancy or health problems? Or maybe problems with debt have snowballed to the point where it is impacting on your ability to pay rent and other household bills. 

Get help with rent

Whatever the reason, it’s important to realise that your situation isn’t hopeless. In this guide, we’ve put together a few tips and suggestions to help you cope and access the right support. 

Ask For Help 

While this may seem obvious, it’s not always easy. If you are the breadwinner for your family and find yourself struggling to meet your rent payments, you may feel a mixture of emotions from panic to hopelessness. This overwhelming situation can be incredibly difficult to process and it’s not uncommon to bury your head in the sand as a way of coping.

But it’s important to understand that the sooner you seek help the sooner the situation will change and the pressure will be taken off your shoulders. So don’t be afraid to ask when you need support! 

The first port of call may be to speak to your landlord. If this is the first month you will struggle to pay your rent, and you expect to have the money soon, then simply explaining the situation and asking to pay a little later may be effective. 

However, there are other circumstances that may arise which indicate that paying your rent could be difficult in the long term. Not addressing this in a timely way could result in eviction, so it may be more helpful to look at other options in terms of getting help, such as financial support, budgeting and employment. All of which we’ll discuss below. 

Seek Help With Finances

For longer-term problems, it may be more helpful to you to seek help with finances from external schemes. Below is a list of avenues that you can explore to support you with seeking help in paying your rent. 

Universal Credit Or Housing Benefit? 

It’s likely you have heard of universal credit, but you may not be familiar with what it means. Universal credit has replaced several older benefits. These include: 

  • Housing benefit 
  • Income support 
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance 
  • Working tax credit 
  • Child tax credit 

If you aren’t already claiming housing benefit, you will need to make a new application for universal credit to get help with rent and other living costs.  Universal credit is usually paid to you directly as one single monthly payment and, within this, is a housing element that is designed to help you pay to rent and some service charges (such as cleaning or maintenance of communal areas). Building Better Opportunities Stafford and South Staffordshire can support you with your Universal Credit application.

To learn more about universal credit and housing benefit, read our article ‘How To Apply For Housing Benefit‘. 

While universal credit is currently being used for the large majority of new claims, there are some exceptions where you may be able to make a claim for housing benefit: 

  • You (and your partner if you live with them) are pension age 
  • You get other benefits which include a severe disability premium 
  • You’re staying in a refuge, hostel or some types of supported or temporary housing

If you already receive housing benefit, and your situation changes to the point where you need to make a new claim, this will need to be for universal credit. 

Discretionary housing payments 

If your housing benefit or universal credit payments don’t cover the rent, you could get help towards it in the form of discretionary housing payments. 

Certain situations may mean that your benefits don’t cover your rent, such as the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and local housing allowance rates. If you’re eligible to make a DHP claim, you do not have to pay this back. To assess your eligibility, the council will look at: 

  • Why you need help with your rent
  • What has caused you to be unable to pay your rent in full 
  • If you are at risk of homelessness because of your rent shortfall (or rent arrears)

How much will I get from a DHP? 

Discretionary housing payments are assessed on a case by case basis. In some situations, a claimant may get the full amount of the shortfall, or just part of it. 

To make a DHP claim, you need to make a claim through your council. 

Charity Grants

Some charities have the facility to support people in paying their rent through grants. Much like discretionary housing payments, you do not have to pay these back, however, you must meet the eligibility criteria to claim them. These can be based on where you live, how old you are, or health conditions you may have. 

To search for grants available to individuals on low incomes, see the Turn2Us website.

Get help with rent from Building Better Opportunities 

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please get in touch with us today. We support individuals and families in Staffordshire & South Staffordshire access help in the form of financial advice, employment support, training and more. Our friendly Advocates will help you to understand all of your options, and support you in making the necessary applications and appointments. Furthermore, we can also help you to access a range of support services and training programmes should you require them. 

To speak to us, give us a call today. Alternatively, find your nearest drop-in session and speak to one of our advocates face to face.