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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

LHA

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.

Housing benefit is a social security benefit which helps people on low income with their housing costs. It can cover rent, rates and some service charges. There are different systems for working out housing benefit for social tenants, who rent from the Housing Executive or housing associations, and for private tenants, who rent from a private landlord or agent. 

 

Your Universal Credit is normally paid directly to your landlord, but you can ask for it to be paid to you instead. If you get Housing Benefit, you can choose whether you want the money paid to you, to the landlord or to the estate agent. 

All tenants have a legal right to apply for housing benefit to help them with their housing costs. You should get to know how housing benefit is calculated and paid.

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.

If someone has to pay rent or rates for their home and is on a low income, they can make a claim for housing benefit. There are some people who cannot apply for housing benefit.

The amount of housing benefit that is paid to single people aged under 35 who rent privately is often restricted. There are some exemptions that apply.

Private tenants who claim help with their rent will get either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. There are two different systems used to calculate how much Housing Benefit someone will get. In most cases, the Local Housing Allowance system dictates how much Housing Benefit a private tenant can receive, but some older tenancies will still be assessed under the old Housing Benefit rules. This will only apply to protected tenancies and tenancies in which a claimant has continuously been receiving Housing Benefit since before April 2008 without a change in circumstances. 

When a private tenant applies for housing benefit, the Housing Executive will normally calculate how much housing benefit that person will get based on the appropriate Local Housing Allowance rate. The Local Housing Allowance rate is almost always less than the amount of rent you actually have to pay. However, in certain circumstances, the Housing Executive can use a higher figure to work out how much housing benefit you are entitled to.

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