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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private rented housing benefit

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. 

You can make a new claim for housing benefit if you are a student and you have reached pension age. Younger students will only be able to claim housing benefit if

  • they are living in temporary or supported housing, and
  • they meet certain requirements. 

Some younger students may be able to claim Universal Credit, but this is not always possible. 

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.

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.

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.

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 rules will be used to calculate how much Housing Benefit or Universal Credit a private tenant gets to help with rent. But, if you have tenants living in protected tenancies or tenants who have continuously been receiving Housing Benefit since before April 2008 without a change in circumstances their benefits will be calculated using the old Housing Benefit rules that existed before 2008. 

The amount of benefits tenants get towards rent will not always match up to the amount of rent you charge. Instead, the amount of benefit paid depends on the size of the claimant's household, their personal circumstances and the area in which they live.

Housing benefit is paid in arrears and at either fortnightly or four weekly intervals. When a tenant moves out of the property you need to tell the Housing Executive so it can stop the claim. If the tenant moves out, but the Housing Executive is still paying housing benefit, it may try to reclaim this overpayment from you.

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