Housing benefit is a social security benefit which helps people on low income with their housing costs. It can cover rent, rates and some service charges. There are different systems for working out housing benefit for social tenants, who rent from the Housing Executive or housing associations, and for private tenants, who rent from a private landlord or agent.
A set of rules is used to work out how much help private tenants can get with their rent. These rules are known as Local Housing Allowance and are used by Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. The LHA rules have been used since April 2008. Almost all private tenants have their rent help worked out under this system, but there are a few exceptions.
If you don't already get Housing Benefit, you can only make a new claim for it if you get a Severe Disability Premium as part of your other benefits or if you are over pension age. You also need to have a responsibility to pay rent or rates. If you can't apply for Housing Benefit, you may be able to get help to pay your rent by applying for Universal Credit.
Private tenants who claim help with their rent will get either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. There are two different systems used to calculate how much Housing Benefit someone will get. In most cases, the Local Housing Allowance rules will be used to calculate how much Housing Benefit or Universal Credit a private tenant gets to help with rent. But, if you have tenants living in protected tenancies or tenants who have continuously been receiving Housing Benefit since before April 2008 without a change in circumstances their benefits will be calculated using the old Housing Benefit rules that existed before 2008.