Housing benefit for rates
If you own or rent your home, you may get housing benefit to help you pay your rates. This is known as rate relief or housing benefit for rates.
The Land & Property Services deal with housing benefit for rates for owner-occupiers, whilst the Housing Executive deals with it for tenants and people buying their home through the Co-Ownership scheme.
Who can claim housing benefit for rates?
If you own your home, you may be entitled to either housing benefit for rates or rate relief. Your entitlement to this assistance depends on the following:
- your income
- your partner's income
- your savings
- your personal circumstances
- the amount you are charged for rates.
If you own your home, you need to apply for help with rates to Land & Property Services.
You may get help with your rates if you rent and, as a tenant, you are liable to pay rates. If you pay your rent to a landlord, you have to apply for rate relief to the Housing Executive.
The rules about housing benefit are complicated. Get advice if you are unsure about your rights or you are having problems with your claim.
I have my day in my house, can I claim Housing Benefit?
If you don't own your home, but can remain living there for the rest of your life, contact your local Housing Executive District Office about claiming housing benefit for rates.
You can ‘have your day in your house' if, for instance:
- you sold your house to somebody under the agreement that you will be allowed to remain in the house for the rest of your life,
- you are a protected tenant.
I am buying my home through the Co-Ownership scheme
Contact your local Housing Executive District Office if you are buying your home through the Co-Ownership scheme and you want to claim housing benefit for rent or rates.
How much can I get?
You can get help with up to 100% of your rates. However, the actual amount you get will depend on your personal circumstances. The general housing benefit rules apply if you are applying for help with the rates.
Will I get housing benefit for rates if I have savings?
The more money you have, the less housing benefit you will get. If you live with your partner, your savings will be assessed together to work out how much housing benefit you will get.
If you have savings over £16,000, you won't get any housing benefit (unless you get guaranteed pension credit). If you are under 60, your housing benefit will likely be reduced if you have between £6,000 and £16,000 in savings. If you are over 60, you may be allowed to have up to £10,000 in savings before any deductions are made to your housing benefit entitlement.
How do I apply?
You will only get housing benefit for rates if you apply using the claim form, available from Land & Property Services' website, Land & Property Services office or the Housing Executive (if you rent your home).
Your housing benefit (rate rebate) may be delayed if:
- you don't complete the form accurately,
- you don't give Land & Property Services all the information.
What do I have to give to Land & Property Services?
Owner occupiers applying for Housing Benefit for rates must give proof of identity and proof of income to Land & Property Services. If you are applying for the first time, you must provide proof that you own your property.
Proof of identity
Land & Property Services accept:
- a valid Northern Ireland driving licence,
- a passport.
If you can't provide a Northern Ireland driving licence or a passport, Land & Property Services will accept two of the following:
- Translink half-fare smart pass,
- Translink senior citizen concessionary pass,
- Electoral identity card,
- your birth certificate,
- your marriage certificate,
- your divorce or annulment papers,
- medical card,
- gas, water, electricity or telephone bills.
If you do not provide proof of identity, Land & Property Services may refuse your claim.
Proof of income
Land & Property Services will accept:
- wage slips,
- benefit books,
- bank statements,
- a letter from you bank or building society confirming the details of your savings,
- a letter from the Pension Service confirming the details of your pension.
You must provide evidence of all your or your partner's savings and investments, for each individual account you have.
Proof of ownership of the property
If you are applying for housing benefit (rate rebate) for the first time, you will have to provide proof that you own the property.
You can get details of property ownership by contacting the Land Registry at:
Customer Information Unit
27 -45 Great Victoria Street
Belfast BT2 7AD
Tel: 028 9025 1515
Can I appeal?
Telephone or write to Land & Property Services if you are unhappy with the decision. Ask for an explanation of how your claim and entitlement was calculated. You are also entitled to a written statement of reasons for the decision. You must ask for this within one month of the date on your decision letter.
Land & Property Services will reply in writing within 14 days. If you are still unhappy with the decision, you can:
- ask the Land & Property Services to look at the decision again,
- ask for an appeal.
If you have asked for a written statement of reasons, the one-month time limit will be extended by the number of days it takes Land & Property Services to send you the written statement.
Appealing the decision
If Land & Property Services do not change the decision, you can appeal. You must ask for an independent appeal within a month of the decision. The independent appeal tribunal is not connected to Land & Property Services.
Before the appeal takes place you will be asked if you want to give any more information to help your appeal. Make sure that you include all relevant information on the appeal request form as the tribunal doesn't have to consider facts you raise at the hearing.
Your appeal can be a paper hearing or an oral hearing. You or Land & Property Services can ask for an oral hearing. It is usually best to ask for an oral hearing, especially if you feel that Land & Property Services have not considered your circumstances. Get advice if you are planning to appear at your independent appeals tribunal.
At a paper hearing you do not have to attend the appeal. Your appeal is decided on the basis of the written information that you and Land & Property Services have submitted.
At an oral hearing you have the chance to explain your case in person.
I still don't agree with the decision
If you are still unhappy with the appeal decision, you may be able to appeal further. You may be able to:
The rules on when you can appeal are complicated. Get advice if you want to appeal further
Back to top