There are certain living conditions that bear an impact on the benefits you claim and must be reported to the DWP. The aim of this blog post is to explore all the potential possibilities of being able to claim benefits while living with a friend. To have an in-depth understanding, we will also explore how long someone can stay with you without affecting your benefits claims, the concept of a non-dependent adult living with you and how their income is considered for a means test by the authorities.  

Can You Claim Benefits While Living With A Friend?

Yes, you can claim benefits while living with a friend. However, if you or your friend are claiming benefits, the amount that you receive will reduce as both of you will be expected to contribute your earnings towards the cost of living; especially housing costs.

If you move in with a friend, you will be considered as a non-depednant adult who shares their house as your main residence. Under this classification, you will be expected to contribute towards housing costs and council tax. This will directly impact the Housing Benefit that your friend has been claiming. Similarly, if you were claiming the benefit, moving in with a friend indicates that you are no longer liable to earn and provide for the cost of living. Therefore, as their income is considered to be contributed towards living costs, your Housing Benefit payment will reduce.

If your friend was previously claiming a Single Occupancy council tax reduction on your council tax bill, she will not be able to do so once you move n with her and vice versa. This means that from paying a 25 per cent council tax bill, both of you will be liable for a full council tax bill.

Whether or not your friend expects you to contribute towards housing costs, the government does and this is why the addition of an adult to a household impacts the benefits claimed by its residents. This is also the reason why one should inform the DWP or their local council office f there is a change to their circumstances, living conditions or a change in the number of people living in their household.

Residents must provide the DWP proof of income of the person who has moved in with them so that changes to their benefits claim and council tax bill are made accordingly. If they fail to do so, they will be charged at the highest level which reduces their benefits claim to the minimum amount.

It is only in exceptional cases such as the ones listed below, that moving in with a friend does not affect the benefits payments either of your receive:

  • Either of you is on Attendance Allowance, registered blind or receives the care part of Disability Living Allowance.
  • The person who moves in is on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and they are under 25 (this is only for Housing Benefit).
  • The person who moves in is a full-time student, or they receive a work-based training allowance.
  • The non-dependant is in hospital for six weeks or more.
  • The non-dependant receives Pension Credit or Carer’s Allowance.

How Long Can Someone Stay Without Affecting Benefits?

Whether it is a partner, friend or family member; anyone can stay at your house without affecting benefits as long as your place of residence is not their main residence. This means that they may choose to stay with you for a few days or sleepover in the night or stay over if they are taking care of you for any reason; however, they must have evidence to prove that they have a permanent residence of their own where they are responsible for paying rent, council tax and monthly utility bills.

There has been a general assumption that someone staying over at your place for two to three nights per week will not affect your benefits or in the case of a relationship, you will not be considered as a partner. The error with this assumption is that it is not the number of days (or nights) that count towards classifying two people as living together and consequently affecting their benefits, it is the evidential proof of whether someone is considering your home as their own when they stay in your house. 

If someone regularly stays at your place for a few nights each week, doesn’t have a permanent residence of their own or their bills are addressed to your home, they will be considered as living with you and due to this change in your circumstances, your benefits will be affected.

How Much Is A Non-Dependant Deduction From Housing Benefit

Depending on the gross income (this is the sum of their incomes from varied sources before any deductions or tax payments) of the non-dependent adult who is living with you, there will be a reduction in the amount of Housing Benefit that you are currently in receipt of. The reason for this is that your cohabitant is expected to contribute to your household expenses through their income and savings.

A detailed breakdown of cohabitants’ income bracket and their impact on your Housing Benefit is given below:

Weekly Deduction: Housing BenefitGross Income of Cohabitant
£15.95Less than £149
£36.65Between £149 and £216.99
£50.30Between £217 and £282.99
£82.30Between £283 and £376.99
£93.70Between £377 and £468.99
£102.85£469 or more

Are There Any Exceptions To Non-Dependent Deductions From Benefits?

Yes, there are certain situations under which despite having a non-dependent adult living with you for an indefinite period of time, no deductions will be made from the benefits you currently claim. These are classified below on the basis of different situations:

In the case of a partnership:

  • either of the partners (or both) is (are) registered as blind
  • either or both of them are getting Attendance Allowance, the care component of Disability Living Allowance, the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or the Armed Forces Independence Payment

In case of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support:

There will be no deduction from either of the state benefits if the non dependant person living with you is:

  • below the age of 18 years
  • below the age of 25 years and on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • currently on a work-based training for young people and receiving a training allowance
  • a full-time student or student nurse;
  • recently released from hospital after a period of more than 52 weeks;
  • in legal custody 
  • a homeowner or renter of a property 
  • currently on Pension Credit 
  • a student working during the summer
  • mentally disabled

Can A Carer Stay At My House Without Affecting Benefits?

Yes, if a carer moves in with you, it will not affect your benefits. They may help with washing and cooking for the person they are caring for, taking them to doctor’s appointments or helping with regular household tasks such as managing bills and shopping.

However, to qualify as a carer, the person must fulfil the below criteria:

  • aged above 16 years 
  • spending a minimum of 35 weekly hours in care
  • having lived in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 of the past 3 years
  • normally live in England, Scotland or Wales
  • not be in full-time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more
  • not subject to immigration control
  • their post-tax weekly earnings are £128 or less 

What Is Classed As Living Together For Benefits?

According to the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), if two people are living under the following conditions, they will be considered as living together:

  • One of them is the registered owner or registered tenant of the house while the other one continues sharing the premises with them as their main residence without having a postal address of their own
  • The unregistered occupant is using your home address for to be registered to vote, receive their mail, benefits claim and tax payments
  • Both occupants share a joint account

What Are Means-Tested Benefits?

Means-tested benefits are those state benefits that are calculated on the basis of someone’s income, savings and capital. This is the reason why when someone is considered to be sharing your house or you and a partner appear to live together, their income and savings are also taken into account for your benefits claim and reduce the amount that you were receiving earlier.

Means-tested benefits include the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance 
  • Housing Benefit 
  • Council Tax Reduction 
  • Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit 
  • Working Tax Credit 
  • Universal Credit

Conclusion:

This detailed discussion brings us to the conclusion that while friends can live together and continue to claim benefits; however, they should expect a reduction in the amount that they receive as two adults living together are expected to contribute towards housing costs, which in turn reduces the benefits claimed by either or both of them.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits While Living With A Friend?

Can I claim Universal Credit if I live with a friend?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you live with a friend. However, if you were living alone previously, moving in with a friend will decrease the amount that you receive through your Universal Credit payments.

Can I claim benefits if I live with someone?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you live with someone but you must consider that your payments will decrease in value. In case the two individuals who live together are a couple, both their incomes and savings will be assessed jointly for a means assessment regarding their benefits claim.

How many nights can my partner stay without affecting benefits?

It is not the number of nights that counts towards classifying two people as living together and consequently affecting their benefits.  If someone regularly stays at your place for a few nights each week, doesn’t have a permanent residence of their own or their bills are addressed to your home, they will be considered as living with you and due to this change in your circumstances, your benefits will be affected.

Can you have a partner stay over when claiming benefits?

If your partner has their own place and a council tax bill to their name, they may stay over weekends or even a few weeks at your place without affecting your benefits, council tax bill or any discounts that you are eligible for such as council tax reduction due to single occupancy

What counts as living together?

If someone regularly stays at your place for a few nights each week, doesn’t have a permanent residence of their own or their bills are addressed to your home, you will be considered as living together. Due to this change in your circumstances, your benefits and taxes will be affected.

References:

How do other people in your home affect your claim

Check if you can get Universal Credit – Citizens Advice

Will other adults living in my home affect my housing benefit? – Guildford Borough Council

Universal Credit (UC): What if I have another adult living with me? – Turn2us

A survival guide to benefits and living together | Advicenow

CCM15150 – Claimant Compliance Manual – HMRC internal manual – GOV.UK

Housing benefit deductions when living with non-dependants – Shelter England

Exceptions – when we don’t take any deductions for non-dependants

Carer’s Allowance: Eligibility – GOV.UK

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