If you rent your home from a private landlord you may be eligible for housing element within your Universal Credit (UC) payment. This will show as a separate element in the top half of your statement. It is your responsibility to ensure your rent is paid in full, including any shortfall that UC does not cover.
This page covers information for private rented tenants, including:
Eligibility for housing element
To be eligible for support you must be
Legally responsible for making the payments of rent
Live in the rented accommodation
Reporting and verifying housing costs
Most people will have a tenancy agreement but if you have a less formal agreement, you will be asked to provide evidence of this – usually a letter from landlord. You may also be asked for proof of rent payments and utility bills.
If you are on a joint claim, UC will treat you both as liable for rent even if only one of you are named on the tenancy agreement.
Housing element will not be included if you pay rent to a close relative who lives in the same property. If you move and rent from someone else, your circumstances will be assessed again and you may be eligible for housing element.
You would be entitled to one bedroom for:
You (and your partner if you have one)
Any child over 16 (qualifying young person) still on your claim
2 children of either sex, who are under 10
2 children of the same sex, under 16
Any other person who lives as part of your household – non-dependent
You may be entitled to an additional bedroom for an overnight carer, disabled child unable to share or if you or your partner is disabled and unable to share with partner.
Housing element amount
The amount of housing element you are entitled to is based on your Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate or your actual rent – whichever is lower. There may be a deduction for any other adults who live as part as your household (see housing cost contribution).
NOTE: If you are a joint tenant with someone who is not your partner (eg. a sister), it will be assumed that you are responsible for an equal share. If this is not the case, you can ask for any information and evidence to be looked at by a UC Decision Maker
Your Local Housing Allowance is based on the number of bedrooms for your circumstances, not the number of bedrooms that you have.
Your LHA amount will depend on:
Where you live
How many bedrooms you are entitled to
NOTE: You can usually only get shared accommodation rate if you are single and under 35 but there are exceptions.
Calculate how much you will receive
For those private renting, UC will base your housing element on your local housing allowance Local Find out how to check your LHA rate
You will not get your full local housing allowance rate if your rent is lower. UC will take into account your actual rent.
Your full rent will not be covered if your local housing allowance rate is lower and you will be expected to meet any shortfall from other income.
Note: Bedroom tax does not apply to private rent and only applies to social tenants.
Non-dependant deductions (Housing cost contribution)
There will be a non-dependent deduction of £85.73 for any other adult who lives in your house, unless an exemption applies.
A non-dependent is someone who resides with you that is not a dependent child or a partner and is not liable for paying the rent.
It is not someone who you collect rent from as a sub-tenant.
It is not a landlord or joint tenant.
It is normally a grown up son or daughter or elderly relative.
There will be no deduction if the non-dependent is:
receiving Pension Credit
receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate
receiving the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
receiving Attendance Allowance
receiving Carer's Allowance
the primary carer for a child aged 4 or under
Or if you (or your partner) is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (middle/high rate care), Personal Independence Payment (daily living) or Attendance Allowance or you or your partner are registered blind.
Taking in a lodger can be a great way to offset any additional costs.
A lodger is not a non-dependent.
A lodger is someone who pays you rent on a commercial basis to live in your home but is not part of your household.
A bedroom will not be allocated for a lodger.
Income from a lodger is disregarded by UC, meaning it should not impact your claim.
For more information check out the Rent a Room Scheme.
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)
If you're struggling with your rent and need more help with housing costs, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local council. These discretionary payments are primarily to help with paying rent although they can also help with other housing-related costs.
To be eligible for a DHP you need to be in receipt of the housing element of universal Credit.
A DHP can help if you have a rent shortfall due to:
local Housing Allowance Rates being less than your rent
you are benefit capped – this will show as a reduction in overall Universal Credit entitlement rather than a reduction in rent. You can still apply for a DHP as councils recognise that rent entitlement make up a large part of the reason someone is benefit capped.
You may also be able to access a DHP to cover a deposit or rent in advance to secure a home. Some councils also offer a DHP to help with moving costs, especially if you are downsizing.
Applying for a DHP
You cannot apply for a DHP until after the end of your first Universal Credit Assessment Period.
To make a claim for a DHP you need to contact your local council.