Means-tested benefits tend to get affected by the number of people staying together as a household. Through this article, we aim to explore the possibilities of benefits being unaffected by the number of nights a partner stays over. For a broader perspective of the situation, we will also review different relationship statuses and their impact on the benefits an individual claims.

How Many Nights Can A Partner Stay Over When On 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 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.

However, it is generally when someone above the age of 18 years who is classified as a non-dependant adult, is staying with you that your Housing Benefit or Council Tax may be reduced. The reason is that the authorities expect them to contribute towards your expenses, even if you do not expect them to. 

Can My Partner Stay At My Home Without Paying Council Tax?

Whether or not your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/friend(s) need to pay council tax while staying over at your place depends on the duration and nature of their stay. If they have 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 council tax bill or any discounts that you are eligible for such as council tax reduction due to single occupancy. 

However, should their stay be extended enough or frequent enough that your home becomes their main residence, you may lose your single-occupant discount if you were previously eligible for. If they don’t have another property to declare as their main residence or they don’t have a council tax bill to their name, you might lose your council tax discount due to their extended stay. 

If your partner spends more than 6 months in a year at your place, they may consider adding your home as their main residence and applying for a second home discount on their own premises. For this, you may require to consult your respective local council offices to learn about each council’s taxation and discount schemes in this regard. 

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 

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 receiving. 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

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

If the above conditions apply to a couple and they choose to live together only to claim more benefits, they may be held guilty of benefits fraud.

Benefits that are affected as a result of a couple splitting up include the following:

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

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 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 Be Married But Not Live Together To Claim Benefits?

Yes, you can be married but do not live together. However, if you are choosing to live in separate homes due to benefits claims, you will still be obliged to inform the Department for Work and Pensions of this significant change in your circumstances.

A lot of times, couples choose to live separately despite being married due to their jobs and work-related commute. In some cases, they do so, so that they are able to claim means-tested benefits that they were claiming prior to their marriage as the incomes and savings of couples are jointly considered when assessed for a benefits claim.

For instance, if either of the spouses receives Child Benefits, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Universal Credit, the amount that they receive from the DWP each month may be reduced when both of their earnings are taken into account for a means test.

Similarly, if either of them has been receiving a Bereavement Allowance, they will lose claim of this benefit once they start living with a partner. However, in this case, they will also run the risk of not announcing a change of marital status to the DWP (which they are supposed to).

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:

The discussion here makes it apparent that it is not the number of nights that a partner stays over that affect the benefits claim one makes; your claim is affected by whether or not your partner treats your home as their main residence or not. The reason for benefits being affected by the addition of a partner to a household is due to the fact that the joint incomes and savings of both partners are taken into account by the DWP while conducting a financial assessment of their situation for benefits payment or claim approval.

FAQs: How Many Nights Can A Partner Stay Over When On Benefits?

How long can someone stay without affecting benefits?

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. The error with this assumption is that it is not the number of nights that counts 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.  

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.

Will I lose Universal Credit if my boyfriend moves in?

No, you will not lose your Universal Credit payments if your boyfriend moves in with you. However, you are required to inform the Department for Work and Pensions when someone starts living with you. You may be asked to make a joint claim in such cases.

What happens if I move in with my partner?

While there is no change to property ownership if you move in with your partner but it may affect their council tax bill payments or the benefits they were claiming earlier. If they were claiming the single occupancy discount on council tax, they may lose it after you move in. 

References:

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

When do the DWP or HMRC treat a couple as living together for benefit?

Separated But Living Together | Divorce-Online

When do the DWP or HMRC treat a couple as living together for benefit?

Covid drove us to share a home but what are council tax implications?

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.