If you have a low income, you may be eligible for help to pay your rent and council tax. You do not need to be out of work or receiving income support to get help. For information about these benefits and how to apply, see the links on the left.
The government has made some changes to the benefit system which means if you currently receive Council Tax Benefit, from 1 April 2013 you will move onto the new Council Tax Support scheme. If you are of working age you will have to pay something towards your council tax or increase the amount you pay. Visit the council tax pages section to find out more about the changes.
You can also find out more about other benefit changes that may affect you by visiting our benefit changes section.
Who can claim?
You can claim if:
- you are on a low income
- you have less than £16,000 in capital or savings
- you live in the home you pay rent or council tax for
You cannot claim if:
- you do not have a rent or Council Tax liability
Special rules apply to the following people who apply for housing benefit and Council Tax Support:
- people who have to go through immigration control
- people in hospital
- people in residential care and nursing homes
- young people aged 16 or 17
- people who have to maintain two homes
Even where special rules apply, you could still be entitled to housing benefit or Council Tax Support. To find out if you are entitled you should claim. For more details click here for how to claim or click below to download a claim form.
You can claim housing benefit if you live in a home you pay rent for. This includes renting from a private landlord, a Housing Association, the council or if you live in a hotel or hostel.
There are some service charges included in your rent that housing benefit cannot pay for such as water rates or your personal gas, electricity or phone bill.
If you rent from the council and need help with your rent, we can pay benefit up to the full amount of your rent less a deduction for other people who live with you and certain service charges.
If you rent from a private landlord and need help with your rent, the amount of benefit that we can pay depends on your Local Housing Allowance.
Local Housing Allowance
Housing benefits are calculated using a system called Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
If you rent a property from a private landlord you will be affected by Local Housing Allowance if you either:
- make a new claim for housing benefit
- currently claim housing benefit but move address
- have a break in your claim of at least one week
For more details, go to the Local Housing Allowance page.
Council Tax Benefit/Council Tax Support
From April 2013 Council Tax Benefit is ending and will be replaced by a local Council Tax Support Scheme. Please see the Council Tax Benefit replacement page for more information.
For more details about council tax, visit the Council Tax pages.
How much can you get?
We can pay up to the full amount that you are charged for rent. As of 1 April 2013 everyone who is of working age will have to pay something towards their council tax.
For a guide to how these changes will affect you visit the How much will you have to pay? page in the council tax section.
The amount of benefit paid depends on:
- the income and capital, of the claimant and partner, such as savings and investments in bank or building society accounts or property (but not the property you live in as your home)
- the circumstances of the household (such as children, disabilities and age)
- whether any one else lives in the household
- whether there are any ineligible service charges included in your rent such as water rates, or whether your eligible rent is restricted by your Local Housing Allowance rate
For a guide to your entitlement, use the Benefit Calculator. Please note that the calculation is only a guide and is not a decision.
Your benefit award letter explained
When you make a claim for housing benefit you will be sent a benefit decision notice letter. The letter contains the information about you and your household and how we have worked out how much benefit you are entitled to.
It is important that you read these letters very carefully to check that the information is complete and correct. If any of the details about you and your household are wrong or missing, you must let us know as soon as possible.
To learn more about the contents of a benefit decision notice letter and how to check it we have included guidance notes to help. Please click on the related documents link below for examples.
Where to get help
You can always contact us for help and advice on 020 7527 4990.
In this section
- If you are a landlord
- Disagreeing with our decision
- Backdating a claim
- Benefits calculator
- Overpaid benefit
- Changes in circumstances
- Discretionary Housing Payment
- Benefit fraud
- How to claim
- How to contact us
- Local Housing Allowance
- People who live with you (non-dependants)
- Frequently asked questions and answers
- Second Adult Rebate