How much help with my rent will I get?

How much get with my rent will I get?

If your landlord is a Housing Association or Local Authority/Council
If you are entitled to a Housing Costs Element and live in social housing, then the DWP will work out how much that should be by:

  • Taking your weekly eligible rent and working out how much is due on a monthly basis.
  • Deducting any Bedroom Tax reduction if you are considered to be under-occupying your home.
    See Bedroom Tax for more information.
  • Deducting any non-dependant deductions – or what the DWP call Housing Costs Contributions.
    See Non-dependent deductions for more information.

If you are living in privately rented accommodation
If you are entitled to a Housing Costs Element and live in private rented accommodation, then the DWP will work out how much that should be by:

  • Taking the Local Housing Allowance rate for your area according to the size of property you are deemed to need. If this is lower than your rent, they will use this. If your rent is lower than the applicable LHA rate, they will use you rent.
  • Deducting any non-dependant deductions – or what the DWP call Housing Costs Contributions.
    See Non-dependant deductions for more information.

NOTE: If you are a joint tenant with someone other than your partner, then the DWP will normally assume that you are each liable for an equal share of the rent.

How can I find out how much my Housing Cost Element is?

On your Universal Credit online account there is a ‘Payments’ section listing your current and all previous payment statements. If you click on a date of a payment, you will open the statement for that particular payment, and you can then view how the payment was worked out.

In the top section of this statement it lists any Elements you were entitled to for that Assessment Period including your Standard Allowance. 

If the DWP has included a Housing Costs Element in your UC award, then it should be listed here.

If no Housing Costs Element is listed then contact your Housing Officer or a Benefits Adviser for help.

Example:
Sheena made a claim for Universal Credit after being made redundant from work. She is a lone parent with two children. She lives in a socially rented two bedroom flat. Her first payment of Universal Credit is £844.42 – this means that after she’s paid her rent she’ll have just £257 for the month – which doesn’t seem much. When she explains this to her Income Officer he asks her to check how the payment has been worked out and spots that there’s no Housing Costs Element listed. He helps her write a message to her Work Coach, and her award is reviewed to include this. He also suggests she makes sure she has made a claim for Council Tax Support and free school meals.

Why isn’t my Housing Cost Element as much as the rent I have to pay?

It could be less than your full rent if:

  • You live in social housing and are affected by the Bedroom Tax or have ‘ineligible’ service charges, or
    See Bedroom Tax for more information.
  • You live in private rented housing and your Local Housing Allowance rate is below the rent you pay to your landlord, or
  • If you have non-dependants living with you (eg grown-up children, parents etc) and a Housing Costs Contribution has been deducted, or
    See Non-dependant deductions for more information.
  • The DWP have got it wrong – for example they are only paying half the rent because they believe it is what they call an “untidy tenancy”. This is usually because you are a technically a joint tenant but the other joint tenant is no longer living in the property and is not paying rent. Contact your Housing Officer/landlord or a Benefits Adviser immediately if you think this may be the case.
    See Only getting 50% covered? for more information on untidy tenancies.

Example:
Freya made a claim for Universal Credit when her youngest child turned 5. She lives in a socially rented three bedroom house with her two sons age 11 and 5. Freya’s Housing Costs Element doesn’t cover her full rent as she is seen to be under-occupying her property and so a Bedroom Tax deduction has been applied. She has to make sure that her full rent is paid every month. She could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment for help.

Example:
Gareth lives in a one bedroom flat. He has a shared tenancy with his ex-partner, Sally, who doesn’t live there any more. Gareth makes a claim for Universal Credit when his hours drop at work – a friend suggested he might be entitled. His first payment is £105, when he looks to see how this is broken down he spots that the Housing Costs Element included in his award is only half of his rent. He messages his Work Coach to ask why and explains that his ex-partner moved out two years ago and has a place of her own. His Work Coach arranges for his award to be reviewed to include a Housing Costs Element based on the full amount of his rent.

WARNING: The amount of the Housing Costs Element included in your UC award may be less than the amount you need to pay your landlord. Make sure you pay your full rent every month or your home may be at risk.

What happens when my rent changes?

You need to let the DWP know if your rent is going to increase or decrease so you get the right Housing Cost Element included in your UC award.

If you are a social housing tenant, you will be sent a “Housing Costs To Do” every April to confirm whether your rent has changed or not. If your rent changes at a different time of year, then notify the DWP when it does.

If you pay rent to a private landlord, then your rent will probably change on the anniversary of your tenancy (i.e. when it’s due for renewal). Notify the DWP at the time and they will re-assess your Housing Costs Element. You may or may not be entitled to an increase in your Housing Costs Element.