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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing benefit

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

If you’ve been receiving benefits you’ll need to let the social security office know that you’re going into prison.

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.

You may not want to inform your landlord or mortgage lender that you're in prison, but you have to keep them informed.

You will only be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are over pension age or if you receive a Severe Disability Premium in your other benefits. If neither of these apply, you can get help with your rent by applying for Universal Credit. 

If you are remanded in custody and you were renting your home before you went to prison, you may be able to get help with paying your rent for up to 52 weeks.

The amount of housing benefit you’ll get to help with your rent depends on your personal circumstances. There are different systems for calculating housing benefit for private tenants and for housing association or Housing Executive tenants.

If you are paying off a mortgage and you are on remand, you may be able to get help with your repayments. You'll only get help towards the interest on your mortgage and you'll only get help for a certain amount of time.

Things can go wrong with your housing benefit claim. If you were getting Housing Benefit when you shouldn’t have been, you’ll have to pay this money back. You could also have problems if you have to pay rent on two homes for a while or have to leave your home temporarily.

Some people who rent their homes from the Housing Executive or a housing association and who receive Housing Benefit may be subject to the “social sector size criteria” or “bedroom tax”. This is a cut to your Housing Benefit if your home has more bedrooms than the Government says you need. This change to Housing Benefit will take effect in Northern Ireland from 20 February 2017. This information explains how this new system works, who is and who is not affected, and what help is available if your Housing Benefit is cut because your home is too large.

You normally have to be living in a property in order to claim and receive housing benefit. However, in certain circumstances you may be able to claim for a property that you're not actually living in. The length of time that you can claim for depends on why you can't live in the property.

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