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Housing Costs: Renting from a Private Landlord

Being eligible for Universal Credit means you may get help with your rental payments and some service charges. Find out how UC claimants who are renting from a private landlord can benefit.

DO YOU QUALIFY? You may need to check the Universal credit eligibility criteria unless you already get it.

If you can get the housing payment it would get paid to you. So, you would need to pay it to your landlord.

Some claimants also qualify for help with other financial difficulties. If so, the extra support would come from the main Universal Credit payment.

Note: Check to see if you can apply for a Council Tax Reduction (often called Council Tax Support). Anyone who qualifies will get a discount on the bill.

Claimants Aged between 18 and 21

Some 18 to 21 year olds who claim Universal Credit lost entitlement for help towards their housing costs. Check to see if you can get help to cover your rental payment and some service charges.

Households with Someone Aged 21 or Older

As a rule, you would get a reduced housing payment if your household includes someone who is aged 21 or older (unless it is your partner).

But, the payment does not get reduced if any of these apply to your situation:

  • You are receiving the Carer’s Allowance.
  • You get Attendance Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • You are registered as a blind person.

Likewise, the reduction of the housing payment would not apply if the person who is 21 or older is (any):

  • Getting Pension Credit.
  • Getting Attendance Allowance, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • Registered as a blind person.
  • Responsible for a child under the age of five (5).
  • Your boarder, lodger, or sub-tenant.
  • A member of the armed forces (away on operations) and is also your child or your step-child.

Under 35 and Not Living with a Partner

The rate is lower if you do not live with a partner. In this case, the most you would get would be the rent for a single room in a shared house for your local area.

Note: The authorities call it the Local Housing Allowance shared accommodation rate (or SAR).

There is an online tool you can use to find the Local Housing Allowance rates in your neighbourhood. You would need to select ‘shared accommodation’ in the box marked ‘bedroom number’.

You would qualify for more than the shared accommodation rate (SAR) if any of these apply:

  • You are living with someone who is ‘dependent’ on you.
  • You have a child who is under the age of 18.
  • You are a care leaver and under the age of 22.
  • You are a disabled person (meeting the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010).
  • You lived in a hostel for homeless people for at least three (3) months in total and you are between 25 and 34 years old.

Homes with More than One Bedroom

Even though you can get help paying for housing costs under Universal Credit, there is a maximum amount you can get. They base the amount on where you are living, the size of your household, your income, and several other circumstances.

You can use the Local Housing Allowance bedroom calculator to work out how many bedrooms you qualify for.

Paying Rent on 2 Homes

The Universal Credit housing payment can cover the rent on two homes at the same time. But, it would only apply if (either):

  • A family member moved out due to fear of violence or abuse, they pay rent somewhere else, and they intend to come back.
  • You started renting a new home with a disabled family member but the home still needs adapting to meet their needs.

If You Get Behind with Your Rent

What should you do if you fall behind on your rental payments? If this happens, you could set up an alternative payment arrangement (APA). It means they would send your housing payment direct to your landlord.

Note: Your landlord can make the application for an APA or you can discuss it with your work coach. Another option might be to apply for an advance or hardship payment from the main Universal Credit payment.

If the Housing Payment does Not Cover all the Rent

In some cases, your local council have the option to make a ‘discretionary housing payment’. Contact your council to apply for extra help paying your rent.

Renting from a Private Landlord and Claiming Universal Credit