You can get help to pay your rent if you are a private renter and have a low income.
If you are claiming help for the first time you should claim
- housing benefit if you are over pension age, or
- Universal Credit if you are under pension age.
How much help will you get to pay your rent?
Whether you get housing benefit or Universal Credit, the amount of help you will get depends on
- where your home is, and
- who lives with you, and
- your income and savings.
The amount of benefit you will get is based on Local Housing Allowance or LHA rates.
The Housing Executive sets LHA rates for 8 different areas in Northern Ireland. Rates are set for these types of housing:
- a room in a shared property
- a one-bedroom property
- a two-bedroom property
- a three-bedroom property
- a four-bedroom property.
Which LHA rate do you get?
Your rate depends on the number of bedrooms you need. This is set out in law. You get one bedroom for
- yourself and your partner
- any other adult living with you
- any two children of the same sex under 16
- any other two children.
You can get an extra bedroom if
- someone regularly stays overnight in your home to provide care for a member of the household
- two people who the law expects to share cannot share because of a disability.
If you are under 35, you will usually only get the shared rate even if you are not sharing your home. There are some exceptions to this rule.
Will benefits cover your full rent?
Many private landlords charge rents that are not fully covered by benefits.
Get a benefits check before you move into a new home. This will help you understand if you can afford the rent on the property.
You may be able to get extra help to pay your rent. You can apply for
- a rates rebate to cover the rates part of your rent, and
- a Discretionary Housing Payment if you need extra help.
Benefits to cover rates
Make sure to tell the Housing Executive if you claim housing benefit and your rent includes rates, or you have to pay rates separately. Your housing benefit payment can include help to pay your rates bill.
Universal Credit does not include help with rates. You will need to apply for a separate rates rebate to get help with your rates bill.
Deductions from your benefits
You will not always get the full LHA rate. Your benefit can be reduced if
- an adult, who is not your partner, lives in your home
- you have savings or assets valued at over £6,000, or
- your income is too high to qualify for full benefits.
Problems with benefits
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.