Help with your Rent
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit is a government scheme to help you pay for your rent. This tells you how to claim Housing Benefit if you pay rent to a private landlord or landlady.
This includes housing associations and sheltered homes.
Can I claim Housing Benefit?
You can claim Housing Benefit if:-
- You are on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or
- You are on a low income
You cannot get Housing Benefit if:-
- You, or your partner between you, have more than £16,000 in savings. A partner is someone you are married to, or someone you live with as if you are married to them
- You pay rent to a close relative who lives in the same home as you
- You own the place where you live
How do I claim?
If you claim Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance the Job Centre Plus will give you forms NHB1 and a Rent Enquiry form for you to claim Housing Benefit. (The Benefits Agency are part of the Department of Social Security). You can claim Council Tax Benefit on the same form.
Fill in the forms and send them back to the Benefits agency straight away. They will send the form to us (the Benefits Section) Tameside Revenues Division with proof of your Income Support claim.
If you have not claimed, or cannot have, Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance
You can claim Benefit if you are on a low income. You need to use the online service for claiming Housing Benefit . You can claim Council Tax Benefit on the same form.
Or you can get the claim form from any of these places:-
- The Benefits Section
- Council Customer Service Centres
- Welfare Rights Unit, Council Offices, Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6DL
- Any Citizens Advice Bureau
If you need help filling in the form, someone from one of these places will be able to help you.
After you have filled in the form, send it to us as soon as you can. Our address is on the form. If you do not send it quickly, you could lose benefit.
If you are married, or living with someone as if you are married to them, you only need to fill in one claim form. You need to tell us about the money you both have.
What if I earn money from work?
You must send us proof of the money you earn so we can work out your Housing Benefit.
If you work for an employer
Please ask your employer to fill in the earnings certificate at the back of the claim form.
If you cannot get your employer to fill it in, you will have to send us:-
- Your last 5 payslips if you are paid weekly
- Your last 2 payslips if you are paid monthly
If you have just started work, do not delay sending your form back. We will let you know what information we need.
If you are self employed
If you are self employed, please send us your most recent accounts. If you cannot do this, get in touch with us for more advice.
If you have a pension
If you pay money into a pension scheme, you need to send us proof of the payments you make.
If you cannot send the information now
It will speed up your claim if you send proof of earnings and pension payments at the same time as you send the form. If you cannot get hold of this information straight away, just send the form. If you don't, you will lose benefit. But you must send this information as soon as possible. We cannot work out your benefit without it.
You need to send us proof of how much rent you pay, and what services are included in your rent. Services include things like heating, water rates and meals. If you have a tenancy agreement, send us a copy of it. We will use it to work out all the details we need.
If you do not have a tenancy agreement, ask your landlord or landlady to write a letter telling us:
- His, or her, name and address
- Your name and address
- How much rent you pay
- What services are included in your rent
- How much you pay for the services
- What date your tenancy started
- What date you moved in to your home
What happens next?
When we get your claim form:
- With proof of how much rent you pay, and
- Proof of earnings if you are working
We will work out your 'eligible rent'. This is the rent you pay each week after we have taken off the amount you pay for any services.
A Rent Officer will look at how much rent you are paying for your home. They do not need to do this if your rent has been registered as a fair rent.
Rent Officers are employed by the government to help the Council work out how much Housing Benefit you can have.
The Rent Officer will decide:-
- If your rent is higher than the rent paid for similar homes in your areas
- If your home is larger than you need
If this happens, we will base your benefit on the rent appropriate for your home and we will send you a letter explaining what we have done.
The under 35's - New Legislation
New legislation from 1 January 2012 will limit the amount of Housing Benefit payable to single people aged under 25, living in private rented accommodation. In most instances, Council and Housing Association accommodation will not be included in the new rules.
The maximum rent used to work out entitlement to Housing Benefit will be restricted to 'Single Room Rent' (SRR). This will be based on the market rent for single room accommodation in the area, with shared toilet and kitchen facilities.
When does my benefit start?
Your benefit usually starts from the Monday after we get your claim form.
If you think your benefit should start earlier
If you think your benefit should start earlier, you can say so on the form.
Please write down:-
- The date you think your benefit should start
- The reason why you did not claim earlier
If you get benefit from an earlier date, it is called backdating. Your benefit can be backdated by up to 52 weeks if you have a good reason for not claiming earlier.
How quickly will my benefit be paid?
All Housing Benefit claims are dealt with as soon as possible. How long it takes to work out your claim depends on:-
- How quickly you send in all the information
- How busy we are when you make your claim
If you are in very urgent need, you can get an emergency payment. But you can only have one if you have sent us all the information we have asked for from you and your landlord.
How will I be paid?
Housing Benefit can be paid by BACs directly into your bank account or by cheque crossed 'account payee'.
If you prefer, we can make the payment to your landlord or landlady by BACs or cheque. This may help you to keep up to date with your rent. If you are owed payment and need it urgently (e.g.) to prevent being evicted we can arrange a payment quickly.
If you have changed from paying rent to the Council and now pay to New Charter Housing Trust (NCHT), we will continue to pay your rent direct to your landlord. If you are a new tenant with NCHT, you can choose to have a cheque sent to you.
We usually have to pay your Housing Benefit straight to your landlord if you owe 8 or more weeks rent.
How much Housing Benefit can I get?
You may be able to get all your rent paid. But if your rent includes an amount for services, we will reduce your benefit. Services include things like heating, water rates and meals.
This is because Housing Benefit does not cover the cost of these services.
How much is taken off for services?
If your landlord or landlady can say how much you pay for each of the services, we will add the amounts together and take it off your Housing Benefit.
If your landlord cannot say how much you pay for the services, we will use standard amounts. These amounts are worked out each year by the government.
If other people are living in your home
We may also reduce your Housing Benefit if other people live in your home. The next section tells you more about this.
What happens if there are other people living with me?
If you have friends, relatives or anyone over 18 living in your home, you may get less Housing Benefit. The amount may be taken out of your benefit for each non-dependant who lives in your home.
Non-dependants do not include:-
- Your partner
- A child you get Child Benefit for
- People under 18 years old
- People in full-time education
- People on Youth Training Schemes
No money will be taken out of your benefit for non-dependants if:-
- You get Attendance Allowance
- You get the care part of Disability Living Allowance
- You are registered blind
How is my Housing Benefit worked out?
If you get Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based)
If you get Income Support, you will get the full amount of your rent after any rent restrictions, non-dependant deductions or services have been taken off.
If you do not get Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based)
We work out your Housing Benefit by comparing the money you get each week with your 'applicable amount'. Your applicable amount is what the government say you and your family need to live on each week.
The applicable amount will be higher for some people - for example, if you are disabled or you are a one parent family.
If the money you get each week is less than, or the same as the applicable amount, you will get the full amount of Housing Benefit. If this happens you should claim Income Support as you may get more help.
What money is counted when my benefit is worked out?
We count the money you earn from work after money has been taken out for:-
- National Insurance and
- Half of any money you pay into a pension fund
We do not count:-
- The first £5.00 of the money you earn each week, if you are single
- The first £10.00 of the money you earn each week, if you are a couple
- The first £15.00 of the money you earn each week, if you are disabled
- The first £25.00 of the money you earn each week, if you are a single parent
We also count any other money you have coming in. This includes most Social Security benefits, maintenance, works pensions and any savings or capital you have.
We do not count:-
- Disability Living Allowance
- Attendance Allowance
- Mobility Allowance
- War Widows Pension
- War Disablement Pension
- The first £15 of any maintenance payments you receive if you have dependant children.
But we need to know if you get any of these, as you may get more Housing Benefit.
What happens if I have savings or capital?
Government rules say that if you (and your partner if you are a couple) have savings or capital of more than £16,000, you cannot get Housing Benefit. If you have £6,000 or less, it will not affect your claim.
If you have between £6,000 and £16,000, it affects how much Housing Benefit you will get. For every £250 (or part of £250) you have over £6,000, we add £1.00 to the money we count each week when working out your benefit.
We do not count any actual interest you get from Savings and capital.
How can I make sure I get the right amount of benefit?
We will send you a letter telling you how we worked out your Housing Benefit. Please check the information in this letter very carefully. If there is anything you think is wrong, you must tell us straight away.
How can I Appeal?
If you think the decision about your Housing or Council Tax Benefit is wrong.
Help when you start work
If you have been getting Income Support which stops because you or your partner have started work you may be able to claim an extended payment.
If you are entitled to the extended payment, your Housing & Council Tax Benefit will continue at the same rate as when you were getting Income Support for an extra four weeks.
The extended payment can still be made even if you move to start work but the amount may be different depending on where you move to.
The main qualifications for an extended payment are:-
- The job must be expected to last 5 weeks or longer
- When the claim for extended payment is made the person claiming it must be aged under 60
- You must have been receiving a qualifying benefit for at least 26 weeks before you start work
Who to contact