In this article
- What you can expect when you try to rent privately if you receive welfare benefit
- In what circumstances housing benefit will be paid
- What to do if you need extra help with paying the rent
If you are unemployed or receiving any form of welfare benefit and you are looking to move into private rented accommodation for the first time, you may find it hard convincing a private landlord to offer you a place. That’s because some private landlords are dubious of new renters on benefits – mainly because housing benefit is paid to people four weeks in arrears. In other words, the landlord can never be certain he/she will receive the first month’s rent as you may have to find the money yourself.
Landlords view their properties as investments, or as a business, and as such take a risk-adverse approach to who they rent to despite how unfair this can feel to honest tenants who rely on benefits.
For those in work who receive housing benefit top-up, finding a home to rent privately is usually easier. Housing benefit is paid to those people with incomes between certain levels and the amount received will differ depending on the wage of the tenant. Those who receive other benefits will automatically qualify for the maximum amount of housing benefit.
Renting on benefits
If you are renting privately and receive welfare benefits you will automatically receive housing benefit to the full amount, though from April 2013 the welfare system was changed bringing many benefits together under one payment called Universal Credit.
A benefit cap was also introduced which means no single person claiming Universal Credit will get more than £350 a week, a single parent can claim up to £500 per week as can a couple (with or without dependent children).
Though you may be entitled to the full amount of housing benefit, this will in reality fall in line with the amount of capping you are subject to and be adjusted accordingly.
Receiving housing benefit when on a low income
If you don’t receive Universal Credit then the housing benefit you receive may not cover all of your rent.
The housing benefit you receive will fall in line with the amount of income you receive and how much you have in savings (if applicable).
Other factors will be taken into account such as your age, whether you have a partner or children or if you are disabled or care for someone who is.
The amount you receive might also be reduced if someone else lives with you and the council decides they should pay something towards the rent, even if they do not in reality.
The housing benefit you receive may not cover all of your rent. If this is the case and you could do with some extra help you may eligible for a discretionary housing payment which your council may be offering to its’ residents.
To be eligible for a discretionary housing payment you must be receiving some amount of housing benefit. You need to apply for it from the council and they will make a decision based on your circumstances and the information you provide them with. TTV recommends you seek advice on this from Citizen’s Advice as you may be able to make a good case with the help of an experienced advisor.
Where to go for further help and advice:
For more information on renting with benefits, contact the housing charity Shelter, consult your local council’s housing department or visit Citizen’s Advice.
- If you receive Universal Credit and are hoping to move into private rented accommodation for the first time, you may find some landlords won’t accept you – but don’t be put off as there are many that will
- If you rent privately and receive Universal Credit you will automatically be entitled to the full amount of housing benefit to help pay the rent – although this will be adjusted according to the amount of Universal Credit you receive
- If you are working but on low income you should receive some level of housing benefit to help with your rent – but it may not be enough to cover the whole rent
- If you need extra help paying the rent you can try applying to the council for a “discretionary housing payment”
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
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