Housing Benefit Tenants - renting a private property

Since October 1996 all applicants for housing benefit have their benefits paid 4 weeks in arrears.

This means a tenant moving into new accommodation will not only have to find money for the deposit, the tenant will also have to find money to pay the first months rent as well until the landlord receives the housing benefit.

Housing benefit can be paid direct to the landlord.

Housing benefit is not available to owner-occupiers.

Tenants in receipt of income support or income based Jobseekers Allowance are eligible for assistance with up to 100% of their housing costs. Those on low incomes may be eligible for assistance for a proportion of their housing costs.

If a tenant owes rent arrears of 8 weeks or more then housing benefit must be paid to the landlord direct. If a tenant is entitled to claim housing benefit in the past and did not claim they can make a claim and ask for the payments to be backdated. The local authority has power to backdate for up to 12 months if good reason for not claiming is shown.

Rent officers are able to set a level of rent known as "single room rent". If a tenant is living in a bedsit or shared flat or house and is under 25 without children this could apply. The rent fixed by the rent officer could be lower than the rent the landlord charges.

If there is a risk that the tenant could become homeless because they cannot pay the full rent they can apply to their local housing office for "exceptional hardship payment".

Single room rent does not apply to tenants of a Registered Housing Association, married couples or other couples living together, tenants with children or tenants who are under a care order and are 16 or over, but under 22 years of age.

Property Disrepair - condition of private rented property & duties of the landlord

Private Housing