Help with housing and tips if you are on benefits
Everyone needs a safe space to live and in the UK housing comes in all different shapes and sizes. You can be a home owner, privately renting, have a council flat or house. Whatever your situation you need to know your responsibilities and how to get help and support if you are on benefits.
Tenant Responsibilities and Tips
One of your top responsibilities is to pay your rent on time. Rent is usually paid in advance every month or week. If you fall behind you can have interest added to the amount you owe or your landlord can take steps to evict you, and claim the money back from you.
You may need to claim benefits to help pay your rent. However, some landlords won’t accept tenants that are claiming. You should still claim everything you are entitled to.
You will need to look after your home and to report any repairs to your landlord. Make sure that your home is well ventilated to help with condensation. You can do minor maintenance such as checking smoke alarms and changing light bulbs. Also disposing your rubbish properly. You must not damage internal decorations, furniture and equipment provided for you from the landlord. You will have to pay if anything gets broke.
You will have to allow access for repairs and inspections which your landlord will give you at least 24 hours’ written notice about. They will also inspect at a reasonable time of day. You should also allow access to tradespeople or engineers, if it has been requested. If your landlord wants to have access for other reasons than you don’t have to let them in, unless you want to. You have the right to live in your home without interference from your landlord.
You will have to take responsibility of your behaviour and anyone else who lives with you or visits your home. This means following rules set by your landlord like no smoking or having guest stay over. Your landlord might take steps to evict you if they receive complaints of noise or anti-social behaviour.
If you are claiming benefits you can also claim housing benefits. This can help cover most of your rent while you are out of work. It is normal part of Universal credit and you can only make a new claim for housing benefit if any of the following apply:
- you’re pension age
- you get other benefits which includes a severe disability premium
- you’re staying in some types of supported or temporary housing
You can ask for a payment on account if there’s a delay in processing your claim.
When you get housing benefit, you must:
- report any changes to that could affect your claim
- complete and return any renewal forms sent to you within the time limit
How to Find a Landlords Who Accept Benefits
Some landlords will accept tenants that have claiming benefits and you will be able to use websites like Spareroom or lettingapropterty.com to find suitable places in your area. You can also use other websites and some landlords even advertise on social media. You can also speak to your council about local private landlords who rent to tenants claiming benefits.
However, you need to be aware of online scams. Some scammers advertise properties that don’t exist or have already been rented out. They then charge a large up front fee to look at it. Some scams target benefit claimants or vulnerable groups by sending emails or texts about universal credit or government loans.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for Private Renters
This allowance is used to work out how much Universal Credit or housing benefit you can get if you are renting from a private landlord. You can check your rate on gov.uk website by entering your postcode or council area, and how many bedrooms you can claim for. The tool gives you a weekly rate and it can be converted into a monthly figure, if you multiply it by 52 and divide the result by 12. This allowance won’t always cover your full rent specially if you are working, have benefit caps or another adult is living with you.
If your benefit doesn’t cover your rent you can apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) from your council. A DHP is an extra payment to help if you’re struggling to pay rent. You should also make sure that you and any household members are claiming everything you’re entitled to.
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