When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Universal Credit housing costs for private tenants

Universal Credit can help you to pay your rent and certain service charges if you rent your home from a private landlord or through a letting agent.

How much help will I get?

The amount of help you’ll get with your rent depends on a few things, including

  • Your age,
  • Where your rented home is located and
  • How many people live with you.

The Local Housing Allowance system is used to work out how much help you will get.

Getting more help to pay your rent

If your Universal Credit housing costs element doesn’t cover the full rent you have to pay to your landlord, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with this shortfall.

How is the housing costs element paid?

Unless you have asked to get the money directly into your account, your housing costs element will be paid straight to your landlord or estate agent.

The money will be paid once a month. Your journal should tell you when the money was sent to your landlord and how much was sent.

Getting the money paid directly to you

You can ask to have your housing costs element paid directly to you along with the rest of your Universal Credit payment. Ask your work coach about this or put a note in your journal.

If the housing costs element is paid directly to you, you will be responsible for paying the full amount of rent to your landlord on time once a month.

If you miss payments and end up owing your landlord rent, your landlord can phone Universal Credit and ask that the money be paid directly to him or her from then on.

Working out your shortfall

Your UC housing costs element probably won’t cover your full rent, and most private tenants will have to pay their landlord extra money on top of the UC payment.

It can be tricky to work out how much you have to pay, especially if you are also getting help with your rates and a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Before you pay your shortfall each month, check:

  • your journal to see how much UC housing costs was sent to your landlord
  • with the Housing Executive to see how much DHP was paid to the landlord during this month
  • your rate rebate account to see how much rate rebate was paid this month if your monthly rent includes rates

Once you have totalled these figures for the month, deduct the total from the amount of rent you are supposed to pay to work out how much extra money you have to give your landlord.