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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing benefit

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.

The bedroom tax is a reduction in Housing Benefit for people who live in a property that is owned by NIHE or a housing association and that is too large for their household. Its proper name is the “social sector size criteria”, but most people call it the “bedroom tax”.

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.

If you rent your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association and you receive Housing Benefit, the amount of money you receive could be reduced if your home has too many bedrooms. Find out how many rooms your household is allowed.

You'll need to establish a level of rent that is both attractive to tenants and covers your own expenditure on the property. When setting rents you should be realistic and remember that letting a property at a slightly reduced rent is more favourable than it sitting vacant on the market.

Your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be reduced if the Government says you have too many bedrooms. However, for the next few years, the money that you lose will be replaced from a separate fund. Politicians at the Assembly have set up a fund to offset these cuts to Housing Benefit, meaning that most people in Northern Ireland will not actually lose out financially because of the changes. 

Your tenants are obliged to keep their rental accounts up to date. If a tenant is late with rent or hasn't paid in full, you should contact them to find out what has happened.

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. 

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