If you have a low income, or are receiving welfare benefits, you can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. This is money from the local authority to help people pay their rent and/or council tax.
You can only apply if you have signed a Tenancy Agreement with the owner of the property – this could be the local authority, a housing association or a private landlord.
You apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit by completing a form which you can download from your local authority website or go to their office to collect one. It is important to give the completed form to the Housing Benefit department of the local authority as soon as possible.
The amount of Housing Benefit you will receive is based on the average rent for the area. This is called the Local Housing Allowance. If your rent is higher than the Local Housing Allowance, you will have to pay any extra rent yourself. The amount of your Housing Benefit depends also on your age and the size of your family. For example, if you are under 35, you will only get enough Housing Benefit for a room in shared house. It is important to check how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to before you sign a Tenancy Agreement. You can check the Local Housing Allowance in your area here.
If you are working and have a low income, you may still be eligible for some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, but your income will be taken into account.
Housing Benefit has been also gradually replaced by the new single benefit called Universal Credit. Please see Jobs & Finance section for more information.