Benefits claims are generally affected when there is a change in someone’s income or living conditions. Through this blog post, we aim to explore the details of renting a house to a family member on benefits and the conditions under which you may be allowed to do so. Additionally, we will also explore other situations related to housing that bear an impact on an individual’s benefits claim.
Can You Rent A House To A Family Member On Benefits?
You can rent a house to a family member benefits under the following conditions:
- there must be a legal agreement between the two parties defining their roles as landlord and tenant
- the renting party must be liable to pay rental payments to the homeowner
- The landlord does not live on the same premises that are being rented to the tenant
You can have a commercial agreement in place to serve as a legal document that establishes a tenant and landlord relationship. In some cases, a short tenancy agreement is often used. You may also need the following documents to prove a formal relationship:
- proof of rental payments such as receipts
- a gas certificate
- your tenancy deposit scheme details
- your likelihood of being evicted if you cannot pay rent
These conditions are extended towards immediate family members and close relatives. These include the following:
- a parent
- a son or daughter
- a step-son or daughter
- the spouse or unmarried partner of any of these people
- a sibling
- a parent-in-law
- a son- or daughter-in-law
You cannot share premises with any of the above if they are renting their house to you as it will disqualify you from benefits claims for rental payments. Additionally, sharing premises with adults (especially those who are with an income) may reduce your benefits claim.
Claimants renting through a trust arrangement are not eligible for benefits claims if the trustees or beneficiaries include the following:
- the claimant
- their partner
- a child or qualifying young person who is the responsibility of the claimant or their partner
- a close relative who shares accommodation with the claimant
If you are renting to an ex-partner, the following conditions must be fulfilled:
- you share a child with them who is under sixteen years of age
- both of you used to live together in the same house
Can You Claim Benefits If You Own A House?
Yes, you can claim benefits such as Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance if you own a house; however, you will no longer be eligible for Housing Benefit. The reason for this lies in the fact that to qualify for Housing Benefit, claimants need to be able to fulfil the following criteria:
- be at least 16 years old
- have a low income or be claiming other benefits
- have less than £16,000 in savings
If your house is mortgaged, you can still claim benefits and use the sum of payments received to pay your mortgage interest.
You can also continue claiming benefits if you own a home through the joint ownership scheme. In this case, you will also be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost element for your monthly rental or mortgage payments.
If you own a house or you live with a partner who owns their house, you can claim support to help you pay your mortgage interest. This is a repayable interest accrued loan.
Additionally, you can claim Universal Credit to make payments related to your home; such as:
- the cost of purchasing the property
- home insurance
- repairs and maintenance
However, you must be on benefits for at least 39 weeks without a break in between; also you should not be in receipt of any of the below forms on incomes:
- Earnings from your job (whether you are employed or self-employed)
- A tax refund
- Statutory Adoption Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Statutory Shared Parental Pay
Can You Claim Benefits When Separated But Living Together?
Yes, you can claim benefits if you and your partner choose to separate as a couple but continue living together. However, if you were claiming benefits as a couple, they may be reduced to single person claims. On the other hand, being separated may make you and your partner eligible for certain other benefits that you were unable to claim before.
If you and your partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, it is advisable for you to inform the Job Centre and HMRC of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status.
If there are children involved, the parent with the main care responsibility of the children will be eligible for a Working Tax Credit if they work 16 hours a week.
Can You Claim Benefits If Someone Lives With You?
Yes, you can claim benefits if someone lives with you 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.
Can You Claim Benefits If You Inherit Money?
If you inherit a lump sum amount of money while you are claiming benefits, you must inform the Department for Work and Pensions. An inheritance increases your savings and is counted as a change in circumstances with must be reported to local authorities to re-assess your financial situation.
As a result of this reassessment, there may be changes to your benefits claim. Since your savings are accounted for during a means test for benefits claim, an inheritance can potentially reduce the benefits you currently receive.
Benefits that are means-tested (this means that the claimants’ income and savings affect their benefits claim) will reduce with an increase in your savings. These include the following:
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Tax
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
However, since the following benefits are not means-tested, the amount that you claim from them will not be affected by your inheritance:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Contribution-Based Employment and Support Allowance
What Changes Need To Be Reported For Benefits Claim?
Claimants need to inform the local council authorities in case of any of the below listed circumstantial changes to their conditions as they will bear a direct impact on their benefits claim:
- one’s name or gender
- finding a new job or ending a previous one
- different working hours
- increase or decrease in income
- an increase or decrease in pension, savings, investments or property
- salary arrears (this applies to you and your partner)
- beginning or ending an educational degree, training or apprenticeship
- home address
- extended stay out of the UK
- number of people in the household
- marital status
- physical and mental health conditions
- extended hospital stay or moving into a care home
- starting or stopping caring for someone
- change of medical adviser
- increase or decrease in benefits you or anyone else in your household receives
- your immigration status (in case you are not a British citizen)
From this discussion on renting a house to a family member on benefits, we have arrived at the conclusion that it may only be possible to do so if you have a formal agreement with the tenant under which they pay periodic rental payments to you and both of you do not live under the same premises. Individuals can also continue claiming benefits if they inherit money, own a house or continue living together with former partners; as long as the conditions outlined under each situation are followed.
FAQs: Can You Rent A House To A Family Member On Benefits?
Can I claim housing benefit if renting from a relative?
You can claim housing benefit if you are renting from a relative and they don’t live in the house that you are paying the rent for. If they do share accommodation with you while you are renting from them, you will not be able to claim housing benefit anymore.
Can you let your family live in your house rent-free in the UK?
Yes, you can let your family live in your house rent-free in the UK. However, if any of you claim benefits (including council tax support), these will be reduced as the DWP may consider their income as a joint income with yours. Similarly, sharing a rent-free accommodation with you will not exempt your family members (who are adults) from council tax payment.
Can I pay rent to my mother?
Yes, you can pay rent to your mother if you share a house with them and she owns the property. However, if either of you is claiming benefits, you must have a formal tenancy agreement in place so that your benefits claim remains intact.
Can I claim housing benefit if I live with my parents?
You can claim housing benefit if you live with your benefits, have a tenancy agreement with them and pay rent to them. Otherwise, you will not be able to claim housing benefit.
Do you need a tenancy agreement to rent to your family?
If you intend to share the premises with your family and neither of you is claiming benefits, you do not necessarily need a tenancy agreement. However, if they are claiming benefits, you should have a tenancy agreement in place and must not be living in the same property.