When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Local Housing Allowance

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. 

Your tenants have a right to apply for benefits to help pay their rent. You can be sued for discrimination if you refuse to allow tenants to claim benefits. Most tenants will claim Universal Credit. Your tenants can get Housing Benefit instead if

  • they are over pension age, or
  • they are moving from another tenancy and are already getting Housing Benefit

Tenants can claim Housing Benefit if they are over pension age. Other tenants can claim Universal Credit if they're on a low income. Certain people cannot claim any help with their rent.

Your tenants who need help to pay their rent will get either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Most tenants making a new claim for benefits will claim Universal Credit. Your tenants may get Universal Credit instead if they

  • are over pension age, or
  • are moving into your home from another rental property that they got Housing Benefit for

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 may be asked to pay back Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if your tenant was not entitled to this money. 

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. You can apply for help if you're out of work or if you are working. 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. 

Almost everyone will experience difficulties paying their bills at some point. If you are worried about falling into arrears or missing a payment of rent, you should talk to your landlord about the problem. Free debt advice is available from a variety of local advice agencies.


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