About Housing Benefit

Who can claim?

Housing benefit is available to people on a low income who rent their property from us, a housing association or private landlord. 

There are some people who are not eligible to claim housing benefit. These include:

  • People who are charged rent by a close relative and they live in the same house
  • Asylum seekers - although they can seek other assistance from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS)
  • Students (in some cases)
  • People who have recently arrived in the UK from an EU country, who are unemployed
  • People receiving Universal Credit (in most cases)

How to Claim?

To claim housing benefit please complete our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support application e-form [e-form opens in a new window].

Universal Credit 

Universal Credit will replace six existing benefits. These are:

  • Income based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Most people getting Universal Credit won’t be entitled to Housing Benefit.  Instead, their Universal Credit payment will include an amount for housing costs.

At the moment, only some people will be able to get Universal Credit (see below).  Everyone else will continue to get Housing Benefit, if they are entitled.  Everyone currently getting Housing Benefit will continue to do so, unless they have a change in their circumstances and they qualify for Universal Credit.

Even if you get Universal Credit, you will still need to claim Council Tax Support from the Council, if you pay Council Tax.

People who meet all of the 'gateway' conditions below can make new claims for Universal Credit.  To qualify for Universal Credit you must:

  • be single
  • not be responsible for a child or for a young person under 20 who is in non-advanced education or training
  • be aged between 18 years and the qualifying age for state Pension Credit
  • live at your usual address, in an area where Universal Credit is available
  • not be homeless, in supported or temporary accommodation, nor a homeowner
  • be a British citizen with a National Insurance number
  • be fit for work
  • not have applied for a fitness for work note
  • consider yourself fit for work
  • not be pregnant nor have given birth within the last 15 weeks
  • not be receiving Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
  • not be awaiting a decision on a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit
  • not be appealing against a decision of non-entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support
  • not be awaiting the outcome of an application to revise a decision of non-entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Housing Benefit
  • not have any caring responsibilities (such as for a disabled person)
  • not be self-employed, a company director or part of a limited liability partnership
  • not be in education or on a training course of any kind
  • not have a person acting on your behalf over your claim
  • have at least one suitable account that the Department for Work and Pensions can pay the money into (including any form of credit union account)
  • not live in the same household as a member of the regular or reserve forces who is away on duty
  • have lived in the UK for the last two years, and not have been abroad for more than four weeks continuously during that time
  • not be required to pay child maintenance via the Child Support Agency
  • not have savings in excess of £6,000
  • not be an approved foster parent (even if you currently have no foster children)
  • not be expecting to adopt a child in the next two months
  • not expect to receive take home pay of more than £338 in the next month
  • not expect to receive any earnings from self-employment in the next month

To enquire about Universal Credit, please contact the Department for Work and Pensions.

How long is housing benefit paid for?

The length of time your claim will be paid depends on your circumstances.  Once an award is made, there is no fixed time limit to the award. The amount of the award may go up or down if there is a change of circumstances. Otherwise benefit simply continues until you stop being entitled or fail to respond to a request for information or evidence and the award is ended.

How will my housing benefit be paid?

If you are a council tenant your housing benefit will be sent directly to your rent account on a weekly basis.
 
If you are a private tenant we will generally pay Housing Benefit directly to you, however we may make payments to your landlord.

Housing benefit is paid every four weeks in arrears, and will be transferred into a bank or building society account. 

How will you get an overpayment back?

An overpayment of benefit means you have been paid benefits that you are not entitled to. If you have been overpaid we will write to you explaining what caused the overpayment and how much has been overpaid.

If your overpayment is found to have been your fault (for example your income increased and you didn't tell us) then we will need to recover any benefit paid to you that you are not entitled to. Our standard rate of recovery is £11.10 a week.

We will recover the overpayment by reducing your housing benefit, or invoicing you if you are no longer receiving benefit. If you feel that the amount we are reducing your benefit by is causing you financial problems please contact us. You may be asked to fill in a form giving details of your income and expenditure.   

Our overpayments policy [pdf document] explains how we recover overpayments of Housing Benefit.

If you disagree with the overpayment you can appeal in writing. This must be done within one calendar month of the date on the letter.

Will you keep the information I give you confidential?

We will use the information you give us on your claim form, and in any proof you send us, to work out your claim for housing benefit.
 
We may pass the information to other agencies or organisations such as the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue, as allowed by the law.  We may check the information you have given, or information given about you by someone else, against other information we already have.  We may also ask other agencies, organisations, local authorities or government departments to give us information they have about you.
 
We will not give information about you to anyone else, or use the information about you for other purposes.  If you want us to talk to someone other than yourself about your claim then you will need to write to us giving your permission. 

Data protection

What happens if I need to move before my old tenancy has ended?

If you are moving from one rented property to another, you might be able to get housing benefit on both of them for up to four weeks. This would help you pay for any notice period required on the old property. To qualify for payments on two homes, you need to have moved into your new property, ideally at the start of the new tenancy and to tell us:

  • why you had to move to your new address before your old tenancy ended
  • why the overlapping charge for rent on both properties could not have been avoided

What is a non-dependant?

Non-dependants are people who live with you who are over 18.

This includes adult children, and other relatives or friends who live in your home, but not your landlord or joint tenants.

Non-dependant deductions reduce the amount of benefit you receive, depending on the circumstances of the non-dependant. The deductions are set down in law and have to be applied whether or not the adult concerned actually contributes to your household.

When you make a claim for benefit you need to give us proof of the income your non-dependant receives. If your non-dependant is unemployed and receives state benefits and we have their written authorisation, we can check this information ourselves with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Claim Bands
Circumstances of the non-dependantWeekly amount from April 2016
Aged under 25 and on income support or income based jobseekers allowance or income related employment and support allowance which does not include an amount for the support component or work related activity component £0
Aged 25 or over and on income support or income based jobseekers allowance, or aged 18 or over and not in remunerative work £14.80
In receipt of main phase income related employment and support allowance £14.80
In receipt of pension credit £0
Aged 18 or over and in remunerative work:
gross weekly income less than £133 £14.80
gross weekly income not less than £133.00 but less than £195.00 £34.00
gross income not less than £195.00 but less than £253.00 £46.65
gross income not less than £253.00 but less than £338.00 £76.35
gross income not less than £338.00 but less than £420.00 £86.95
gross income not less than £420.00 £95.45

Can my claim be backdated?

Housing benefit is usually paid from the Monday after we receive your claim.

In certain circumstances we can backdate your claim for one month before this date; however for us to do this you must be able to show good reasons for not claiming earlier throughout the whole of the period. For example:

  • you were too ill before you claimed
  • you were wrongly told by an advice agency that you were not entitled to benefit
  • you could not manage your own affairs

If you have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit, you can have your claim backdated for up to three months without having to show good reasons for claiming late. 

I disagree with a decision, how can I appeal?

If you are unhappy with any decisions we have made about your claim, you can ask us to look at these again, or you can make an appeal to Her Majesty's courts and tribunal service. 

If you want us to look at our decision again, or if you want to appeal, you must write to us within one month of the date you received our decision, clearly stating why you disagree with our decision.  

Once your claim has been looked at again, we will write to you and tell you if we can change our decision.

Housing Benefit fraud

Housing Benefit fraud is investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions.

You can report suspected Housing Benefit fraud in two ways: 

By telephone:

Contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. Your call is free and confidential you do not have to give your name and address.  Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm.

If you have speech or hearing problems you can use a text phone service on 0800 328 0512 or Welsh speakers can call on 0800 678 3722.

Online at:

www.gov.uk/report-benefit-fraud

Local Housing Allowance

Use our bedroom calculator to find out how much you're entitled to [external link]

Local housing allowance is the way we work out claims for housing benefit for tenants renting accommodation from a private landlord. If you live in Council accommodation or other social housing, local housing allowance does not affect you.

Local housing allowance rates are based upon the number of bedrooms you or your family need - these come from the Valuation Office every April.

To work out your benefit we look at the number of people normally living with you in your household and all your circumstances, and decide which rate applies to you.

Local housing allowance is paid directly into your bank or building society account. If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may need to set one up. That way you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically, using a standing order. 

Information about bank accounts on the money advice service website [external link]

We can pay Local housing allowance direct to your landlord if we decide you are vulnerable (this means you have difficulties managing your own affairs) or unlikely to pay your rent. Evidence to support your request will need to be supplied to us, usually in writing. 

Safeguard policy [pdf document]

If you do not use your local housing allowance to pay your rent, your landlord may take you to court, or try to evict you and you may lose your home.

LHA rates from April 2017 - March 2018 for Darlington

Broad rental market area [pdf document]

Number of bedroomsWeeklyMonthly
Shared rate and under 35 year olds £59.28 £256.88
1 bedroom rate £75.00 £325.00
2 bedroom rate £90.90 £393.90
3 bedroom rate £107.11 £464.14
4 bedroom rate £149.17 £646.40

The number of bedrooms you need for the people who live with you will be used to work out what LHA applies to you. This may be different from the number of bedrooms you have in your property. We do not count other rooms such as living rooms, kitchens or bathrooms.

You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children under age 10
  • any child who is unable to share because of their disability
  • any other child.

The shared rate of local housing allowance will apply when:

  • You live alone or as a couple with no dependants and have a bedroom but shared facilities such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
  • You are aged under 35 and have no dependants.

Examples

  • Reena and Suki are a couple who have a child, Ben, who is nine years old. They are entitled to one bedroom for themselves and one for Ben. This means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for two bedrooms. 
  • Susan is a single mother who has three children, Tom, who is 14, Judy, who is 11 and Raymond, who is six. Susan is entitled to one bedroom for herself, one bedroom for Judy and one bedroom for Tom and Raymond to share. This means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for three bedrooms. 
  • Amy is 20, living by herself and expecting her first baby in three months. Amy is entitled to the shared rate, as she is under 35. However, when the new baby arrives Amy will be entitled to the two bedroom rate.