If you claim Universal Credit and pay rent part of the monthly payment you receive will be for your rent. This is called housing costs. Your monthly payment will be paid into your bank account and you will be responsible for making sure that you pay your rent and any service charges to your landlord. If you live in Supported Accommodation (such as a hostel or women’s refuge) you will not get housing costs through Universal Credit and you will still need to make a separate claim for Housing Benefit.
How to make a claim for Housing Costs?
The claim for housing costs will be part of your overall Universal Credit claim. You do not need to make a separate claim for this as long as you tell the DWP that you have to pay rent when you make your claim. You will need to make a separate claim for Council Tax Support to your local authority if you are responsible for paying Council Tax.
In order to claim for housing costs you will need to provide DWP with evidence of:
- Who your landlord is
- Your Tenancy Agreement
- The amount of your rent
- The amount of your service charges if any
You will be expected to take the evidence with you when you attend the claimant commitment – interview. Providing this is done you should expect that your first monthly payment will include your housing costs. You will be expected to pay any rent yourself for any period before your Universal Credit claim starts. If you are in financial difficulties during the period prior to getting your first Universal Credit payment you should request an advance payment.
What if you don’t have all the evidence DWP need?
If you don’t have a tenancy agreement DWP have said they will accept other evidence as proof of your tenancy. This could be a letter from your landlord giving details of your current rent and service charge.
If you live in a housing association property you would have been given a tenancy agreement when you first moved in. You will also get a letter from your landlord each year about your annual rent increase.
If you live in a privately rented property you may have a tenancy agreement or something similar from your landlord which quotes your current rent level. This letter should be sufficient proof.
There is no legal requirement for your landlord to issue you with a tenancy agreement but if you find that DWP are refusing to pay your rent because you do not have the right papers you should seek advice. If you live in a housing association property and have lost your tenancy agreement then you may not have any other evidence which specifies the number of bedrooms in your property which DWP will need in order to apply the bedroom tax. In this situation the DWP should write to your landlord to ask for confirmation of the number of bedrooms.
What if you have a social landlord?
DWP will write to your landlord to let them know you have claimed Universal Credit. It would be best to let your landlord know that you have claimed Universal Credit in case there is a delay with DWP doing this. Your landlord may be able to provide you with some extra support if there are delays or other problems with getting your housing costs paid.
How much will your housing costs be?
The DWP may pay you less than the full amount of rent for a number of reasons:
- Bedroom tax
- Benefit cap
- Other adults living in the property are expected to contribute
- Your rent is higher than the local housing allowance
- Your income is too high to allow for your full costs to be paid
More information about all of these situations is available on this website.
What if you get into rent arrears?
If you get into rent arrears you or your landlord can ask for you to be considered for alternative payment arrangements once your arrears reach an equivalent of 2 months’ rent. More information about alternative payment arrangements is available on this website.