When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Help with rates if you are claiming Universal Credit

Universal Credit doesn’t include help with rates.

If you have to pay rates and you receive Universal Credit, you can apply for a rate rebate. Land & Property Services is in charge of the rate rebate system.

You can only claim Housing Benefit to help with your rates if you cannot claim UC because you are over state pension credit age

You will not get any help with your rates if your income is too high to qualify for Universal Credit.

Applying for a rates rebate

You can only claim rates rebate once you’ve started to receive Universal Credit. You make your application online, but can get help with your online claim by calling 0300 200 7802. You'll have up to three months from the date you start claiming Universal Credit to claim rates rebate, but it's best to do this as quickly as possible to avoid any arrears building up. 

The rates rebate claim page is available on the NI Direct website.  There are two steps to claiming rate rebate. You must

  • Set up a rate rebate account
  • Confirm this account and then log in to make your claim.

Information you'll need in order to apply

You'll need to have certain information in order to apply for help. You'll have to 

  • provide your name and address, including your postcode
  • provide your date of birth and national insurance number
  • provide some information about your partner, if you have one
  • explain if you own or rent your home
  • provide the name of your landlord, if you rent your home
  • explain if there are any joint owners or joint tenants of the property
  • provide your landlord's telephone number and email address if you are a private tenant. 

Your rate rebate account

Your rate rebate account will tell you how much your payment is each month. The money goes directly to the ratepayer account for the property and not to you or your landlord.

The amount you will get each month depends on what you were earning when you first applied, so you will need to tell Land & Property Services if:

  • the amount of Universal Credit you receive changes,
  • your rates increase or decrease,
  • your share of the rates changes, because someone else moves in or moves out of the property,
  • you move home. 

Private tenants

If you are a private tenant, your landlord must also set up a rate rebate account.

The system will tell your landlord that you have made a claim and the landlord must then create an account or log into an existing rates rebate account to confirm the information you’ve provided.

Backdating rates rebate

You must be getting Universal Credit in order to get a rates rebate. Your rates rebate can be backdated for a maximum of three months, but can't be backdated to a time before you were getting Universal Credit. 

How much help will you receive?

The amount of help you will get depends on 

  • the rates bill for the property
  • whether any other people are also expected to pay towards the rates on the property
  • your income. 

LPS use the information from your first Universal Credit claim to work out how much help you will get. If you left it longer than 3 months to apply for help with rates after you started getting Universal Credit, LPS will use the information from your UC claim from three months ago. 

LPS uses a slightly different calculation to work out your income for rates relief. They then compare this income figure to your maximum UC payment. This is the total of all allowances and elements of UC you receive before any deductions are made. If your income is equal to or less than the maximum UC payment, your full share of the rates will be covered. 

The rates rebate will only cover some of your rates bill if your income is higher than your maximum UC award. The amount covered depends on your own earnings. 

What happens if my earnings change?

It's common for people to receive extra income in the first month that they are assessed for Universal Credit, especially if they have stopped working and are waiting for a final payment of salary. However, the rates system will only review the information about your income once a year and won't review your claim if your income has reduced. Unfortunately, this can mean that you will get less help with rates for a full year. 

Housing Rights would like to help you if you're in this situation. Please speak to our advisers to find out more. 

Notifying LPS of any changes

You have to update your rates rebate account if there has been a change in your circumstances. Make sure to update your details if 

  • you move home
  • you stop receiving Universal Credit
  • your Universal Credit payment is suspended
  • someone else moves in or out of your home and your share of the rates changes
  • you start receiving Housing Benefit.