While the eligibility criteria for Housing Benefit are quite simple, there are variations to it when you rent from a family member. This is the reason why we will analyse different situations in this blog post to learn whether or not you can claim Housing Benefit if your landlord is family. We will also review the situations that can disqualify you from making the claim and discuss the appeal process to give you an idea of the requirements in each case.

Can You Claim Housing Benefit If Your Landlord Is Family?

Yes, you can claim Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit) from the DWP if your landlord is family but you are able to meet the following conditions: 

  • the landlord and family member does not live with you in the same house for which you pay rent
  • you are liable to pay rent to them under a legally enforceable rental agreement 

Meanwhile, if you are paying rent to the following you can claim Housing Benefit even if you live in the same home with a family member: 

  • a grandparent 
  • an uncle or aunt 
  • a cousin or a friend

Similarly, if you currently pay rent to someone who used to let you live in the property rent-free previously, you can claim Housing Benefit.

In order to claim Housing Benefit in any of these cases, the claimant will have to convince the DWP that a formal and commercial tenancy agreement exists between them and their landlord. Therefore, they will be required to provide the following documents as evidence of maintaining a rental arrangement with their landlord who also happens to be family:

  • copy of tenancy agreement
  • receipts of rental payments
  • evidence of rental deposit 
  • gas safety certificate

However, if you share your rented house with a family member to whom you pay rent for sharing their space and the landlord lives in the same house as well, you or your partner will not be able to claim Housing Benefit. 

Who Cannot Claim Housing Benefit While Renting From Family? 

One cannot claim Housing Benefit while renting from a family member when a claimant lives with and pays rent to:

  • the parent of a child who lives with you
  • a former partner with whom you currently share the same house in which which you lived together as a couple previously
  • a close relative or immediate family member 

This means that if you live with any of the following family members and pay rent to them, you will not be able to claim Housing Benefit:

  • a parent
  • a son or daughter
  • a step-son or daughter
  • a sibling
  • a parent-in-law
  • a son-or daughter-in-law
  • the spouse or unmarried partner of any of these people.​

The reason for being unable to claim Housing Benefit for paying rent to any of these close relatives is that one is not liable to pay rent to them if they share the same house.

When Can Housing Benefit Be Refused While Renting From Family?

Even if you don’t live in the same house as your family member who is also your landlord, there are chances that your claim for Housing Benefit can be refused by the authorities. This happens in cases when the local council has reason to believe that the tenancy is a “contrived tenancy”; one that has been created merely to claim benefits.

This usually happens when both parties enter into a tenancy without a commercial tenancy agreement. This means that the terms of the contract are not legally enforceable or there are

little to no consequences of breach of contract.

Can I Appeal Against A Housing Benefit Refusal?

Yes, you can appeal for a revision to the decision of refusal against your Housing Benefit claim if you believe that there has been an error in the decision or that you have not been able to provide the required information earlier and can do so now.

For a successful appeal to the council against a refusal of Housing Benefit, you should be able to provide evidence to prove that your claim has not been assessed correctly.

Your appeal should be submitted within one calendar month, in writing either via email or a letter through the post to the housing department of your local council office with copies of your evidence as support to your claim.

If you are still unsuccessful in claiming Housing Benefit, you can appeal to the Housing Benefit Tribunal and await their decision. 

How Do You Know If You Are Eligible For Housing Benefit?

Being a means-tested benefit that aims to help people on a low income with rental payments, the eligibility for a Housing Benefit claim takes into account the rent, income and capital of a claimant.

Generally speaking, the basic criteria that make a claimant eligible for Housing Benefit states that the claimant should:

  • live mainly in the UK
  • be at least 16 years of age (18 years in case they’ve been in care)
  • earn a low income or claim other benefits as well 
  • have savings that amount to less than £16,000 or receive the guarantee part of Pension Credit

If you live with a partner, only one of you will be required to make a claim for Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

Conclusion:

The above discussion brings us to the conclusion that being able to claim Housing Benefit while renting from a family member has a set of unique situations. This is the reason why one person may be able to claim the benefit while the other may not be able to do so. However, as a general guideline, it is essential to remember that as long as you don’t live in the same house as your landlord who is also a family member, you will be able to claim Housing Benefit.

FAQs: Can You Claim Housing Benefit If Your Landlord Is Family?

Can you rent a property to a family member on benefits?

Yes, you can rent a property to a family member on benefits as long as you don’t live in the same house as them and there is a formal tenancy agreement between the tenant and landlord.

Can I claim housing benefit if my name is not on the tenancy agreement?

You can only claim housing benefit if your name is not on the tenancy agreement as long as you can provide a letter from your landlord or letting agent that can confirm your tenancy.

Is a family member considered a lodger?

Yes, if you are living in the same house as the one being rented out to a family member, they will be considered a lodger and not a tenant.

How much can you have in the bank to claim Housing Benefit?

You can have £16,000 in the bank to claim Housing Benefit. This rule does not apply if you claim Guarantee Credit or Pension Credit.

What happens to my Universal Credit if I move in with someone?

If you are moving in with a partner who is on a Universal Credit claim, both of you may have to apply for a joint claim. Similarly, if a couple split up and they were previously on a joint claim, they will need to apply separately when one of them moves out.

References:

Check if you can get Housing Benefit – Citizens Advice

Benefit support for housing costs when renting from relatives

Claiming benefits if you rent from family – Shelter England

If I rent from a relative will I be able to claim Housing Benefit? – Frequently Asked Questions – Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.

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