Housing Benefit in Northern Ireland
Housing Benefit is money to help you with your housing
costs if you are on a low income. It can help with rent and
some service charges and also with rates.
Applies to: Northern Ireland
If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, see our Housing Benefit (England, Scotland and
Age rules: There are no age rules that affect
housing benefit entitlement
Type of benefit: Means-tested
Administered by: Northern Ireland Housing
You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to
the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:
Who does it help?
You have to be the person who is responsible for paying the rent
to get Housing Benefit. It does not matter if your landlord
is a private landlord or if you have a social landlord.
Housing Benefit does not cover a
mortgage. See Homeowner housing
In Northern Ireland, if you own your own home, you can claim
Housing Benefit to help with the rates. Housing Benefit for rates
is sometimes called 'rate relief'.
If you live with a partner, only one of you can claim Housing
You do not qualify for Housing Benefit if you:
- live in the home of a close relative
- are a full-time student (unless you have a disability or have
What help does it provide?
If you are a Housing Executive or registered housing association
tenant, you will not be paid Housing Benefit directly. Instead
it will be taken off the rent you have to pay so you pay less or no
If you have a private landlord, you will be paid straight into
your bank account. Sometimes the Housing Executive can pay
your landlord directly.
Housing Benefit for rate relief reduces your rates bill.
How much does it pay?
If you get benefits like Income
Support, income-related Employment and
Support Allowance, income-based
Jobseeker’s Allowance, or the guarantee part of Pension Credit, you will get the maximum amount
of Housing Benefit, which could cover the whole of your rent.
Even if you are working, you might get some Housing Benefit to
cover some of your rent. This depends on your income and savings
and on your personal circumstances.
Remember that even if you get the maximum amount of Housing
Benefit, it will not necessarily cover all of your rent. See
details for private tenants and social tenants below.
If you are a private tenant and have made a new claim or moved
since 7 April 2008, how much rent can be paid by Housing Benefit
will be restricted by the Local Housing Allowance. There will be a
rate set for your area and the size of property you
are entitled to. This might mean that not all of your
rent can be paid by Housing Benefit because your home is larger
than you need or too expensive. If this is the case, you will have
to make up the difference yourself or find cheaper
If you are a private tenant visit the HBupdate website
to find out what your eligible rent is.
The Turn2us Benefits Calculator can
calculate how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.
In England, Scotland and Wales, if you rent your home from a
social housing landlord such as the council or a housing
association, and you are of working age, your Housing Benefit may
be reduced if it's considered you have more bedrooms than you
actually need. If you are over Pension
Credit age this size criteria does not affect your claim for
In Northern Ireland, bedroom size criteria is also expected to
apply. However this remains subject to approval by the Northern
Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive. Until then,
current arrangements will remain in place.
See NI Direct website for
more information on potential changes to Housing Benefit from
How do I make a claim?
If you are making a claim for Income Support, Income-based
Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Pension Credit you will be given a claim
form at the same time.
Owner-occupiers can get a claim form by
contacting Land and Property Services:
Telephone: 0300 200 7802
a claim form from the NI Direct website (link opens in a new
Renters can get a claim form by contacting the
Telephone: 03448 920 902
a claim form from the Housing Executive website (link opens in a
Or visit your local Housing
Executive office (link opens in a new window) to collect
If you download the form, you should also contact them
immediately on the number above to let them know that you are going
to make a claim. The date of your phone call may be used to decide
when your right to Housing Benefit, if any, will start.
To make a claim for Housing Benefit, you may be able to fill in
a shortened form known as a 'rapid reclaim'. To fill in a rapid
reclaim, you must have made a claim for Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance before,
within the last 26 weeks. You must also be claiming this benefit
again and your circumstances must not have changed since your last
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What documents will I need?
When you claim Housing Benefit, you must give your national
insurance number and evidence of who you are, for example, a birth
certificate or driving licence. You also need to give evidence that
you must pay the rent, for example, your rent book. If you are
not claiming benefits like Income Support, you must give evidence of your
income and savings, for example, bank statements or pay slips.
Can it be backdated?
Housing Benefit can be backdated for up to six months if you
would have been entitled to it earlier. You have to show a good
reason for not claiming sooner. Request this when claiming.
If you or your partner over Pension
Credit age and you are not getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, your claim
can be backdated for up to three months. It does not matter why
your claim is late. Request this when claiming.
If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you
can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe
the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information
being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or
The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one
month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and
Further information on Challenges and
Change of circumstance
You must report changes in your circumstances
which might affect your entitlement to this benefit
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Updated: 28 March 2013