Housing costs element
You get an amount for rent included in your UC if you are liable for the rent on your home (see below). If you own your home, you may be able to get help with certain service charges, but not if you have any earnings in an assessment period.
UC does not include amounts to cover your mortgage interest payments, but you may be able to get a loan from the Department for Work and Pensions to help with these.
The housing element of UC for rent is paid directly to you, for you to then pay your landlord, although you can request for it to be paid directly to your landlord instead. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more information.
An amount is deducted from your housing costs element if you are in rented accommodation and have a non-dependant living with you. This is called a ‘housing costs contribution’, and is a flat rate of £77.87 per month.
A non-dependant is someone, usually a friend or adult relative, who lives with you, but not on a commercial basis.
There is no deduction for a non-dependant who is under 21, and in certain other circumstances.
See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for further details about the housing costs element, and about loans for mortgage interest.
Help with your rent
You must be liable for rent. There are some circumstances in which you can be treated as liable for the rent, even when you are not legally liable – eg, if you have taken over paying the rent from someone else.
Your UC housing costs element may not include the full amount of rent that you pay.
If you rent from a private landlord (including a hall of residence), your housing element is based on a standard ‘local housing allowance’ for the size of property that applies to you, even if your rent is higher than this amount. If your rent is lower, your housing element is based on the amount of your actual rent. Each local authority has its own rates for properties of different sizes. Check your local authority’s rates at .
Generally, you are allowed one bedroom for:
•an adult couple;
•another single adult aged 16 or over;
•two children under 16 of the same sex;
•two children under 10;
•any other child.
You are allowed a maximum of four bedrooms. If you are a single person aged under 35 with no children, the local housing allowance is usually a lower, shared-accommodation rate. This lower rate does not apply if you are a care leaver under 25, and in some other cases. If you are disabled and need overnight care, you may qualify for an additional bedroom for a carer. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
If you rent from a local authority or housing association, your housing element is usually the same as the weekly rent due. However, it is reduced if you are considered to have a spare bedroom (known as the ‘bedroom tax’). The rules about how many bedrooms you can have are similar to the local housing allowance rules, but see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more information. If you are considered to have one spare bedroom, the reduction is 14 per cent, and 25 per cent if you have two or more spare bedrooms. If your housing element is reduced in this way, you should apply for a discretionary housing payment from the local authority.
A discretionary housing payment can be paid if you get UC that includes a housing costs element and you need additional help with your housing costs - eg, to make up the shortfall in rent due to your housing element being reduced because you have a spare bedroom. Payments are usually awarded for a temporary period, beyond which you have to reapply. Apply to your local authority.