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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Private rented housing benefit

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. 

Landlords usually ask tenants to pay rent at the start of the month. This means that you may have to pay a month's rent in advance as well as a deposit before you move in to your accommodation. You may be able to get help to cover this rent in advance.

You can get help to pay your rent if you are a private renter and have a low income. 

If you are claiming help for the first time you should claim

  • housing benefit if you are over pension age, or
  • Universal Credit if you are under 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. 

You should apply for help to pay your rent if you are on a low income or are struggling. For most people, this means claiming Universal Credit. Claim Housing Benefit instead if

  • you are a pensioner or
  • you live in supported or temporary housing. 

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. 

You can ask for extra help if your benefits do not cover your full rent. This extra help is a Discretionary Housing Payment or DHP. The Housing Executive makes these payments.

The government restricts the amount of benefits it will give to private renters who are under 35. Your housing benefits will only cover the cost of renting a room in a shared property, unless

  • you have a partner living with you, or
  • your household includes children, or
  • you meet one of the exceptions to this rule.  

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