Council houses have been providing low-cost housing facilities through the state for individuals on a low income. While this blog post mainly focuses on an explanation of whether or not pensioners are required to pay rent on council houses, we will also explain in detail other benefits that individuals of state pension age may be able to claim in the UK.

Do Pensioners Pay Rent On Council Houses?

Yes, pensioners do pay rent on council houses. However, if you are a pensioner who meets the below criteria, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit to help with your rental payments:

  • you need to pay rent
  • you are on a low income 
  • you are claiming benefits
  • your savings are less than £16,000
  • you are over State Pension age

Being a means-tested benefit, Housing Benefit takes into account the following essentials regarding the claimant:

  • their savings
  • if they live with someone
  • the amount of rent that they need to pay
  • the number of rooms in their house
  • whether the claimant is receiving disability or carer’s benefits (including Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Personal Independence Payment).

If you are a council housing tenant, payments for Housing Benefit will directly be paid to your rent account so that the amount that you are required to pay is reduced. If you are renting from a housing association or a private landlord, Housing Benefit payments will be paid directly to your own bank account or to your landlord.

If your Housing Benefit does not cover the full amount of your rental payments and you find it difficult to pay your rent as a pensioner, you may be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments through your local council. These payments can help you with funding for:

  • a shortfall in your rental payments(s)
  • your rental deposits
  • advance amount of rent in case you need to move home

As a pensioner, you may be able to claim the following benefits in addition to Housing Benefit, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria for each:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Support Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Cold Weather Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Winter Fuel Payment

You may not be able to claim Housing Benefit if (a) your partner is already claiming it (b) you are receving support through Universal Credit. 

If your Pension Credit includes a Guarantee Credit part, your income and savings will not be taken into account; making you eligible for maximum Housing Benefit. However, homeowners are not eligible for Housing Credit but they may still find support for their mortgage interest as part of their Pension Credit.

Do Pensioners Pay Council Tax?

Yes, pensioners are required to pay council tax. However, should low income count as a factor resulting from retirement, individuals may claim for a council tax reduction. 

Similarly, if someone is claiming Pension Credit, living alone, or has less than £16,000 they will qualify for a council tax reduction on their monthly bill. 

Based on the current London Living Wage of £10.85 per hour, individuals earning between £86.80 and £173.59 will be considered on a relatively low income and be considered eligible for a 50 per cent discount on their council tax bill. Meanwhile, individuals earning less than £86.80 per week will be considered as earning a low income and will therefore become eligible for a 100 per cent council tax reduction.

Do Pensioners On Low-Income Get Council Tax Reduction?

Yes, pensioners on a low income get a council tax reduction. Households in the UK are classified as being on low income if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median net disposable income earned. As per recent data gathered and analysed by the Department for Work and Pensions People in low-income households a household with a couple having no children would be considered to be in low income if their annual household income is less than £17,100 BHC (before housing costs) and £14,800 AHC (after housing costs). 

According to a DWP report titled Households below average income median income for the term, 2019-2020 has been taken as £547 per week. This value serves as the basis for measurement of which income bands fall within the median range and which exceed it. 

Further analysis through the report shows that the 60 per cent of median income mark falls at £328 during the last fiscal. This means that any household with a combined income of less than £328 is considered to be on low income. If an individual is earning 60 per cent below the median income threshold, they become eligible for a council tax reduction on their bill. 

Can Council Help Pensioners With Rent Arrears?

Yes, the council can help with rent arrears 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. However, before committing to a plan of such nature, you must calculate the amount you will be able to spare for this additional expense by considering your income and preparing a budget.

Claimants who are also on benefits in addition to availing 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 (if you have any). 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. 

Can Someone Live With A Pensioner To Share Council House Rent?

Yes, someone can live with you in your council house as they are generally intended for eligible candidates and their families; whether they are dependants or non-dependants. However, if you intend to ask someone to live with you as a carer or a joint tenant, or you intend to sublet your council house, you must consult your tenancy agreement and discuss with your landlord/local council office prior to making any commitments.

If you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, any changes to the number of people in your home might have an impact on the amount of benefit you were receiving prior to them moving in especially if they are expected to contribute towards the rent. Even if the additional occupants are not expected to contribute towards the rent, the council expects them to share your rent and taxes if they are non-dependants. This means that you will face a reduction in your benefits if someone who is classified as a non-dependant comes to live with you.

If you are not on benefits, you only have to inform your landlord of the addition of occupants to your household especially if they are expected to share the rent with you. There is a possibility that your tenancy agreement will need to be changed to adjust for joint tenancy. 

If you are under a Secure Tenancy or Fixed Tenancy agreement with the housing authorities, you may sub-let rooms in your council house; however, subletting of the entire council house is not allowed. You will find a clause in your tenancy agreement that confirms the same. Therefore, it is advisable not to add someone to your council house with the intention of subletting the premises.

Can Pension Credit Help Me When I Retire?

Pension Credit is a state benefit for individuals above state pension age; which aims to help them with finances if they are struggling to make ends meet.

It comes in two parts; Guarantee Credit helps to top up weekly incomes to meet the minimum level and Savings Credit, which is extra money that is given to those whose income is higher than the state pension or they have some savings. 

If someone qualifies for Pension Credit, they may not only benefit from added income to meet their living costs but also find themselves eligible for other state benefits as well. These include the following:

  • Council Tax
  • Dental treatment at NHS
  • Cold weather treatment
  • Housing benefit
  • Carer addition

Conclusion:

From the detailed discussion in this article we have to learn that while pensioners are required to pay rent on council houses, they may be able to claim certain state benefits due to low income which can help them with rental payments. Most pensioners usually claim Housing Benefit if they meet the eligibility criteria; however, low income may qualify them for reduced council tax rates and support with paying back rent arrears as well.

FAQs: Do Pensioners Pay Rent On Council Houses

How much rent can a pensioner claim?

The amount that a pensioner can claim for rental benefits depends on their income and savings. In most cases, they will be eligible for Housing benefits that can pay for the larger part of their rental payments. If your Housing Benefit does not cover the full amount of your rental payments, you may be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments through your local council.

Can you get Housing Benefit when on State Pension?

Yes, you can claim Housing Benefit if you are on a State Pension. You can also claim Housing Benefit if you need to pay rent, are on a low income, are claiming benefits and your savings are less than £16,000.

What benefits are pensioners entitled to?

As a pensioner, you may be able to claim the following benefits if you fulfil the eligibility criteria for each:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Support Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Cold Weather Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Winter Fuel Payment

Do pensioners pay council tax in the UK?

Yes, pensioners are required to pay council tax. However, should low income count as a factor resulting from retirement, individuals may claim for a council tax reduction. Similarly, if someone is claiming Pension Credit, living alone, or has less than £16,000 they will qualify for a council tax reduction on their monthly bill. 

How much does a pensioner need to live on in the UK?

As per data shared through research in 2021, if you are a married couple living in the UK, you will need a minimum retirement income of £15,700, to live a moderate lifestyle and £10,900 if you are single.

References:

Housing Benefit – GOV.UK

Housing benefit advice | Age UK

Pensioners | Calculation of housing benefit and council tax reduction

Council Tax Support | Claiming Benefits

Check if you can pay less council tax

Council Tax Support | Claiming Benefits

Paying off your rent arrears

Get help with renting costs

Can someone live with me in my council house?

Discretionary Housing Payments

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