Applying for Housing and Council Tax Benefit
Housing benefit is money to help people on low incomes pay their rent. The Government makes the rules on who can claim and how much they can get, and we run the scheme for them.
The amount of housing benefit you can get depends on:
- the type and size of the property you live in
- your rent
- your income - the money you have coming into your home
- your savings
- your personal circumstances, for example, your age and whether you have people living in your home.
How to Apply
You will need to complete an application form to apply for housing benefit, this may be completed at Job Centre Plus, through the pension Service or with your Local Authority. Evidence of your identity, all income, all savings or other capital and your national insurance number must be provided. This information is also required for your partner if you have one. Details of anyone else living in your household are also required.
If all the information in support of your claim is supplied your claim should be processed within 14 days or as soon as possible thereafter. You have one month from the receipt date of your application to supply all documentary evidence requested. If you do not provide supporting evidence, then you may lose benefit.
List of evidence required:
- Earnings - 5 weekly, 2 monthly or 3 fortnightly payslips
- Bank Statements – last 2 months ( mini -statements not accepted )
- ID.- Passport/driving license,/birth certificate/household bill etc.
We will discuss your claim with your landlord only if you, the claimant have given authorisation. There is a section on the application form that you would have to sign to authorise this. We will not give your landlord any information about your personal, household or financial circumstances.
It is very important that you continue to pay your Rent and Council Tax. You may receive little or no benefit and if you do not pay you may fall in to arrears.
You can claim Housing Benefit irrespective of whether it is a furnished or unfurnished let.
The Applicable Amount
The 'applicable amount' is the amount the Government says you need to live on each week and it is made up of three parts:
- An amount for you and your partner, if you have one.
- An amount for any dependent children in your family.
- An amount called a premium to help with special needs, for example, if you have children or if someone in your family is elderly or disabled. These amounts are set by the Government and normally change every year.
You will not be entitled to Housing or Council Tax Benefit if any of the following apply:
- you are not the person liable to pay rent or Council Tax
- you have more than £16,000 in savings
- you are not a UK Citizen with some exceptions
- you live in the home of a close relative or you are a full-time student, unless you are a full time student who is also:
- Receiving Income Support
- or a lone parent or couple who are responsible for a child or foster child
- or disabled
- or under 19 and following a further (not higher) course of education
- or aged 60 or more.
How we pay your Benefit
Benefit can be paid directly to yourself, if you are a private tenant, either by means of a cheque being issued every fortnight or you can choose to have it paid directly into your bank account. If your landlord is a Housing Association you can choose to have it paid directly to them.
We will pay your Council Tax Benefit directly into your Council Tax account. It will show as a reduction on your Council Tax bill.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are normally awarded from the Monday after the day you claim.
Self- Employed Claimants
If you are Self-employed, benefit may be awarded if you can supply evidence of your takings and expenses or a projection of what your Self-employed Income will be. You could also complete one of our Self-employed earnings information forms. Any entitlement will be based on the calculation of income from these records. Your local area office will photocopy your record books. You may be asked to supply these at regular intervals until your business is established and you have been trading for a full year.
Most full-time students over 19 cannot claim HB/CTB but there are exceptions for some students who are classed as vulnerable. i.e. If the student receives the disability premium, is a lone parent, have reached the qualifying age for pension credit, couples who are both students with dependant children, students under 19 and not in higher education. There are special rules for couples with children where one member is a full-time student.
Housing/Council Tax benefit is a means-tested benefit, so what matters is how much money you have coming in, rather than whether or not you are employed. If you are unemployed, or are on a low wage, you may be entitled to housing/council tax benefit. The best way to find out is to apply. Or use our online benefits calculator.
Prior to accepting a tenancy or moving in to a private property we strongly advise that you find out how much housing benefit you would get if you applied. You should ask us for a Pre-tenancy Determination Form. You will be asked to provide details about the property and the prospective landlord will also need to sign the form. We will send the form to the Rent Officer and he will write to you and us stating a maximum rent figure that will be used to calculate your Housing Benefit. This figure is the maximum amount of benefit that you may receive. However in order for us to tell you exactly how much benefit you can expect to receive you should contact or visit us providing details of all your income, savings and personal circumstances. You will then be in a position to know if you can afford the rent of the property.
Local Housing Allowance
LHA is Housing Benefit for people on benefits or low incomes who rent from private landlords. LHA is based on the number of rooms people are allowed, not how much the rent is. The number of rooms allowed depends on who lives with the tenant.
LHA is the maximum rent on which the level of Housing Benefit is limited to.
Local Housing Allowance will usually be paid directly to you, not your landlord. You will get paid either straight into your bank account or by cheque.
It is up to you to make sure your rent is paid to your landlord. One way of doing this is to set up a regular payment from a bank account.
The amount of LHA your housing benefit will be based on depends on who lives with you, what area you live and the date of claim. The LHA rates are reviewed monthly and are published in many places e.g. Customer Service Points, Job centres and Council websites.