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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing benefit for Housing Executive and housing association tenants

You will only be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are over pension age or if you receive a Severe Disability Premium in your other benefits. If neither of these apply, you can get help with your rent by applying for Universal Credit

What about if I'm already getting Housing Benefit and have to move?

As long as you move from one property to another, with no more than a few days break in between, you can just change your address and continue to receive Housing Benefit. 

But, if there is a longer gap between leaving one property and moving into the other, the Housing Executive has to end your Housing Benefit claim. When you move into the new property, you'll have to claim Universal Credit to get help with your rent. 

You will also have to end your Housing Benefit claim and start claiming Housing Benefit instead if there is another significant change in circumstances when you move, such as moving in with a partner or separating from a partner. 

I am over state pension credit age or I get a Severe Disability Premium

You can make a new claim for Housing Benefit if 

  • you are over state pension credit age (or you are in a couple and both of you are over pension credit age) OR
  • you receive a Severe Disability Premium as part of your benefits. 

Housing benefit can be used to help with rent, rates and some service charges but won’t cover things like heating, lighting, fuel, food, laundry. You can claim online or by completing a form and returning this to the Housing Executive. You can get the form from the Housing Executive's website or by visiting your local NIHE office. 

If you are signing up for a new Housing Executive or housing association tenancy your Housing Officer should help you make a claim for housing benefit. Send in your claim as soon as possible. Your claim will start on the Monday after the Housing Executive receives your form and any other information you need to send in as part of your claim.

Backdating a claim

If you can show good reasons why you didn’t claim in time, you might be able to get your claim backdated  for up to 4 weeks.  You need to ask for the claim to be backdated on your form and should explain why you didn’t claim earlier.  It can be difficult to get a claim backdated.  You can speak to an adviser at Housing Rights if you want to know more about backdating your claim.

Completing the form

Read the application form and the guidance notes.  Fill in the form carefully.  Answer all the questions that apply to you and be completely honest. 

You need to show the Housing Executive some evidence to prove the information you’ve given them is correct.  Pages 4 and 5 of the Housing Benefit Application Form explain the types of evidence that can be used.

Your housing benefit claim could be held up if you don’t answer all the questions you’re supposed to or if you forget to send in any of the evidence the Housing Executive.  If you need help filling in the form, contact Housing Rights.

If you hand your form in at a Housing Executive office, make sure that you get a receipt to show the form has been received

Paying rent while your claim is being processed

The Housing Executive should process your claim within 14 days of receiving all the information you’ve been asked to provide.  You have to keep paying your rent while you’re waiting for your housing benefit to start.

If your payment is late you can ask for an Interim Payment. This is a temporary payment that can be made if there's been a delay processing your claim.  You can get an interim payment if there has been a delay caused by

  • your landlord
  • your employer
  • the Social Security Agency
  • Land & Property Services or
  • the Housing Executive

Ask for this payment by writing to or telephoning the Housing Executive.  Keep a copy of your letter or keep a note of the time and date of your call and the name of who you spoke to.  If it turns out that you're not entitled to housing benefit or you're only entitled to have some of your rent paid by housing benefit you might have to pay this interim money back. 

Bedroom tax

If you have more bedrooms than you need, the amount of Housing Benefit you receive may be reduced. This is because of a government policy called the Social Sector Size Criteria, but most people refer to this policy as the Bedroom Tax. If you are a pensioner, you won't be affected by this policy.