With a constant rise in the cost of housing, there is an increase in the number of people looking for council help with their monthly rent, advance payments and tenancy deposits. This is why we aim to learn if one can seek help from their local council office to pay their rent. Additionally, we will also explore how Universal Credit, Housing benefits and Discretionary Housing Payments provide financial support to individuals for their housing expenses.

Can The Council Help With Rent?

Yes, the council can help you with rental payments whether you are a private or a council tenant; as long as you are eligible for any (or all) of the following:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit (housing element)
  • Discretionary Housing Payment
  • Local Housing Allowance
  • Council tax reduction

In order to claim Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, the claimant should either be unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. Claimants who are of state pension age and living in supported, sheltered or temporary housing will also qualify.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Local Housing Allowance, the amount that one can claim depends on two factors:

  • the council district they live in
  • the number of bedrooms or total space that they occupy in their home

If the amount that you receive through Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance does not cover the entire amount of the rent that you need to pay, you can claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your council. 

DHP is intended for people who need extra help with their rental payments due to financial hardship or their tenancy is at risk.

In addition to this, some tenants can be eligible for Council Tax Reduction which is a discount on their council tax bill. The eligibility range for a council tax benefit is quite wide and includes individuals who are working, unemployed or disabled.

Can The Council Help With Unpaid Rent To Avoid Eviction?

Yes, the council can help you if you have unpaid rent or rent arrears and are at risk of eviction from your home. They do this by offering tenants in social housing convenient options such as a payment plan to clear their dues and make future payments easier for them. In such a case, social renters pay an extra amount above their usual rent to cover their arrears. 

Claimants who are also on benefits in addition to availing of a council house will find it easier to seek easy payment plans from their councils or social housing landlords. For instance, if you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you may simply have your payments transferred to for payment of your rent through Direct Debit or a Standing Order.

If this is not a workable solution as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit do not account for the entire amount of your rent, you may apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This is extra money provided by your local council to meet your rent payments or arrears. You are not required to return this amount to the council. If you are on Housing Credit or Universal Credit, you can ask your local council for a DHP form.

How Does Housing Benefit Help In Paying Rent?

If you are a private tenant claiming Housing Benefit, the amount that you can receive as a monthly payment from the state will depend on the following: 

  • your Local Housing Allowance and your monthly rent; whichever is lower between the two
  • your total household income including pension and savings (amounts above £6,000 will be taken into account)
  • your circumstances; such as age, health and disability 

Payments will be made to you through your bank account or a building society account if you are a private or housing association tenant. In the case of council tenants, Housing Benefit payments are made directly to their landlords. 

How Can I Pay Rent With Universal Credit?

If you qualify for the housing element of Universal Credit, you can pay your rent using the payments you receive from your Universal Credit claim. However, it is not necessary that the amount that you receive through your Universal Credit payment covers the full amount of your rent. The amount that one can claim through Universal Credit primarily depends on whether you live in a privately rented property or in council housing. 

If you are a single person living in a privately rented house/flat, the amount of rent that you are eligible for under Universal Credit will depend on the number of people living in your house. The actual amount that you get will be based on the Local Housing Allowance predetermined for your area. While this amount may cover the full amount of rent for some individuals, it may not do so for others.

On the other hand, if you are a council housing or social housing tenant, Universal Credit will pay for your entire rent. However, it is essential that you are living in a property that is appropriate for your needs and there are no spare bedrooms. If such is the case, this amount will be reduced by 14% if you have one spare bedroom on the property and 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

How Can I Claim Discretionary Housing Payments?

You can claim Discretionary Housing Payments if you are receiving the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit but they are not sufficient to cover your full rental expense. 

A claimant for DHP can expect to get paid if any of the following situations apply to them:

  • the amount of rent that is used to calculate your Housing Benefit is comparatively less than the rent that you actually pay due to a restriction by the Rent Officer
  • the Local Housing Allowance assigned to your housing band  is less than the amount of rent that you have to pay
  • the amount of rent that you qualify for is restricted on the basis of the social sector size 
  • your Housing Benefit claim accounts for a non-dependant deduction
  • you earn more than the amount set by the government due to which your benefit payment is reduced
  • you need to pay advance rent, a rent deposit or a moving expense

Conclusion:

The above discussion has helped us in learning that not only do council authorities help eligible tenants with rental payments, there are a number of benefits that one can claim simultaneously to afford their housing expenses. Therefore, the best way to proceed with getting help is to contact your local council office.

FAQs: Can The Council Help With Rent?

How can I get help with my rent in the UK?

You can claim Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit if you need help to pay rent in the UK. If your benefits claim does not cover the full amount of your rent, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment through your local council office.

How much rent will Universal Credit pay for a single person?

If you are a single person with no children, universal credit will pay you £296.35 a week to cover your rental payments.

Can Universal Credit help with a rent deposit?

Yes, Universal Credit can help you to pay your rental deposit. If the amount that you claim through Universal Credit is not enough to pay for the deposit, you can also apply for a budgeting advance; an interest-free loan offered by the DWP for Universal Credit claimants. 

Can you pay half of your rent?

Yes, you can pay partial rent as long as it is mentioned in your tenancy agreement and there is a mutual understanding with your landlord. You may also pay your rent on a weekly or fortnightly basis rather than as a monthly bill.

Who is eligible for a discretionary fund?

To be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Fund, claimants should be on Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and yet require additional financial assistance to meet their housing costs. In addition to this, they must qualify to be in extreme financial hardship that makes it difficult to pay for essential needs.

References:

Housing Benefit: What you’ll get – GOV.UK

Housing Benefit: Eligibility – GOV.UK

Get help with renting costs – Citizens Advice

You can’t afford the rent for your council home – Citizens Advice

Options if you cannot afford a deposit or rent in advance – Shelter England

Get help with rent – Shelter England

How to get help with housing costs through Universal Credit – Stoke-on-Trent Live

Rent Assistance – Stirling Council

Extra help with your housing costs or council tax

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