When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Applying for help with your rent

You should apply for help to pay your rent if you are on a low income or are struggling. For most people, this means claiming Universal Credit. Claim Housing Benefit instead if

  • you are a pensioner or
  • you live in supported or temporary housing. 

Claiming Universal Credit

You claim Universal Credit online.

Universal Credit helps with housing costs, childcare costs and living costs.

Claiming Housing Benefit

You can only claim Housing Benefit if you are a pensioner or if you live in supported or temporary housing. 

Claim Housing Benefit online or download an application form from the Housing Executive's website.

Waiting for your first payment

You will have to wait for a few weeks before your first payment comes in. 

You may be able to get help to manage while you are waiting. You could get

  • an interim payment of housing benefit
  • a run-on payment of housing benefit, if you moved from housing benefit to Universal Credit
  • a grant from the Universal Credit contingency fund
  • an advance of your first Universal Credit payment.

Get advice if you are struggling to manage while waiting for your first payment. 

Backdating your claim for help to pay rent

Your claim will usually start on the day you submit your claim. Sometimes, you can ask for the claim to start earlier. This is called backdating. 

You can ask for your housing benefit claim to be backdated for up to 3 months if you are a pensioner. 

Universal Credit can only be backdated for one month. You can only get a backdated payment in certain circumstances.

Get advice if you think your claim should be backdated. 

What if my circumstances change?

Certain circumstances will change how much housing benefit you get. These include

  • an adult, who is not your partner, lives with you
  • someone moves in or moves out of your home
  • you receive a lump-sum payment
  • you start or stop working
  • your income changes.

It is very important to tell the Housing Executive about any changes to your household or income. If you forget to tell them, you may have to pay back some of the benefits you received. This is called an overpayment of benefit. 

Get advice if you have problems with your housing benefit. 

Claiming help to pay rent if you do not have a tenancy agreement

You have to prove that you are responsible for paying rent. This is easy to do if you have a tenancy agreement.  

You need other evidence to prove that your tenancy exists if you do not have a tenancy agreement. You could use

  • your rent book
  • proof that your deposit is in a protection scheme
  • a letter from your landlord or agent.

Get advice right away if you do not have any evidence to prove that you pay rent.