Housing benefit – Existing Tenants

Housing benefit – Existing Tenants

Housing Benefit helps people pay their rent.
You could get Housing Benefit if you are on other benefits or if you’re working.

From 2013 onwards, Housing Benefit and Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance are gradually being replaced by a new benefit called Universal Credit which can include amounts to help with either rent or mortgage. Pension Credit will remain and in the future will include amounts for rent as well as mortgage costs.

Housing benefit – Existing Tenants
How long is Housing Benefit paid for?

Generally, once you start getting Housing Benefit payment can continue indefinitely. Housing benefit only has to stop if you are no longer entitled to it.
However, in some circumstances, you have to make a new claim to continue getting benefit. For example, if you move to a different local authority area, you will have to make a new claim to that local authority housing benefit department.

Otherwise, you should remember to report all changes of circumstances which might alter the amount of Housing Benefit you get, for example, changes in income or capital, or changes in the number of people who live with you. If you do not report these changes, you may be underpaid, or you may cause an overpayment which you will have to pay back later.

If your circumstances change you must notify your local council immediately

You should tell the local authority about any changes of circumstances which could affect your benefit, for example, a change in the people who live with you, or a change in your income or capital. If you move, you must report your new address and give information about the tenancy. If you move to a new local authority, you will have to make a new claim.

If you are not sure whether to report a change, you should do so anyway. If you do not report a change, you may be paid less than you are entitled to, or be overpaid, or you may even be investigated for fraud.

If you want more information about what changes to report, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau

Problems with housing benefit?
If you are refused Housing Benefit and you think the decision is wrong, or you think the amount of Housing Benefit has been worked out wrongly, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again, or you can appeal. You should do this within one month of the decision about your housing benefit.

If you are not happy with the service you have received from the Housing Benefit department (for example, because of long delays or errors which are not sorted out), you can complain. You can do this whether or not you are also challenging a Housing Benefit decision.

Falling behind with your rent payments
Even if you receive housing benefit you must pay your full rent in advance. This is also the case if part of your rent is paid by housing benefit. As housing benefit is paid in arrears we recommend you pay an affordable sum every week or month to bring your account into line.

It is your responsibility to make sure that your housing benefit’s paid so that you do not fall behind with your rent payments. If your payments are delayed, you should chase up the housing benefit office and keep the landlord informed of your progress.

If you cannot pay the rent for any reason, you should contact us straight away. We can offer advice on dealing with debt and arrears read more

Get ready for Universal Credit
universal credit
The government has started bringing in a new type of financial support called Universal Credit.

It’s for people who are out of work or on a low income and it will eventually replace many of the benefits and tax credits they’re getting at the moment. There are things you can do now to make sure you’re ready for the changes when they affect you.

Universal Credit explained

Universal Credit is a new type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work. It will replace six existing benefits and is currently being rolled out across the UK. The new system is based on a single monthly payment, transferred directly into a bank account. At present Universal Credit only affects newly unemployed people in certain areas of the country.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now.

Universal Credit will replace:

• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Child Tax Credit
• Working Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit

You can find out more by visiting money advice services