Almost everyone who lives in a property in Northern Ireland has to pay rates. Rates pay for services throughout Northern Ireland; like schools, hospitals and roads; and for services in your local area; like bin collection, parks and leisure centres. The amount you pay depends on the value of your property and which council area it is in. You can get help to pay your rates if you're on a low income or receiving certain benefits.
When working out your Housing Benefit, the Housing Executive gives you premiums and allowances for everyone living in your home. These allowances and premiums are changing under welfare reform and this may mean that some people receive less Housing Benefit.
You have to pay rent to your landlord, whether that’s the Housing Executive, a housing association or a private landlord. When you’re offered a property you should be told how much the rent is and how much your rates and service charges are. If you're not given this information, make sure you ask for it before agreeing to take on a property.
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.