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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

HB Under 35

Housing benefit can help some people to pay their rent and rates. The government is replacing housing benefit with Universal Credit. Most people who need to claim help to pay rent for the first time will claim Universal Credit instead of housing benefit. 

You can only make a new claim for housing benefit if you are of pension age or if you live in supported or temporary housing. 

The local housing allowance (LHA) system calculates how much benefit private tenants get towards rent. Both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit use the LHA rules. 

The amount your tenant gets in benefits will not usually match the rent you charge. It's common for tenants to get a lot less than they have to pay the landlord. 

You must pay rent to your landlord in return for living in the property. If you stop paying your rent, are late with a payment or do not pay in full, your landlord may begin eviction proceedings against you.

Private renters can get help to pay their rent. If you are not already getting help to pay your rent, you should claim

  • housing benefit if you are over pension age, and
  • Universal Credit if you are below pension age. 

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are of pension age or if you are living in certain types of housing, such as supported housing or temporary housing. Most people who need to make a new claim for help to pay rent will have to claim Universal Credit. 

Private tenants can apply for extra housing benefit if the amount they are getting doesn't cover their rent. This is known as a discretionary housing payment. The Housing Executive decides whether you are entitled to extra benefit and how much you should get.

Renting a home from a private landlord or through an agent could be an option, but there are potential problems which you should be aware of before taking on a tenancy. Know your rights and responsibilities.

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