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Universal Credit (UC) housing costs element

Universal Credit (UC) housing costs element can help with rent and some service charges if you are a tenant.

1. What is the Universal Credit (UC) housing costs element?

This money is to help you with your housing costs.

It can help with rent and some service charges if you are a tenant.

It is paid with your Universal Credit. It is usually paid to you and it is your responsibility to pay your landlord.

If you are a homeowner, you can't get the housing costs element to help with mortgage payments. However, you might be able to get it for service charges. Homeowners might be able to get help with mortgage payments in the form of a Support for Mortgage Interest Loan

Applies to: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Administered by: Department for Work and Pensions

Reviewed: August 2021

2. Can I get Universal Credit (UC) housing costs element?

You can only get help with housing costs through Universal Credit if you are eligible to receive Universal Credit.

Tenant

If you are a tenant you have to be the person who is responsible for paying the rent to get help with your housing costs.

If you are separating from your partner, and they are the person named on the tenancy, but you are the person actually living in the property, you should be able to get help with rent payments. If Universal Credit refuses to help with your rent payments, get advice.

You will not usually qualify for help with housing costs if you live in the home of a close relative, unless you are also named on the tenancy.

Homeowner

If you are a homeowner you might be able to get help with service charges. To be able to get this help, you must not have any earned income. If you are making a claim as a couple, if either of you have any earned income, of any amount, you will not qualify for a housing costs element.  Owner-occupiers who are leaseholders, can still receive help with some service charges through Universal Credit Housing Costs Help.  Owner-occupiers with a mortgage have the option of applying for a Support for Mortgage Interest Loan for help with the mortgage interest.

Temporary or Supported Accommodation

If you live in temporary accommodation that your were placed in by the council to meet their duties to you as a homeless person, or accommodation in which you receive on site support, you won't get help with your housings costs through Universal Credit. Instead, help with housing costs will be paid through Housing Benefit, which you will need to claim from your local council.

Updated August 2021

3. Universal Credit (UC): How much will I get? I'm a private tenant

Your housing costs will be calculated using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for your area.

There will be a LHA rate set based on rental prices in your area and the number of rooms you need based on who lives in your household. Your LHA rate might not match the number of bedrooms you have in your property.

If you are single, don't have any dependent children and are aged under 35, you will only be able to get the Shared Accommodation rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This won't apply and you will be entitled to the One Bedroom rate if:

Otherwise, you will be entitled to one bedroom for each of the following:

  • You (and your partner if you have one)
  • Any other person over 16, as long as they aren't living with you as your tenant
  • Two children under 16 of the same gender
  • Two children under 10
  • Any other child under 16

Example

Siobhan (34) lives with her partner Aaron (40) and their four children. Their children are a son aged 17, two girls aged 13 and 15, and a boy aged 4. They get one bedroom for Siobhan and Aaron, and one bedroom for the boy aged 17 because he is a person over 16. They also get one bedroom for the two girls to share (two children under 16 of the same gender), and one bedroom for the 4 year old boy (any other child under 16). They are entitled to the 4 bedroom rate of LHA. 

Extra bedrooms

You may be able to get an additional bedroom if you, your partner or your child has a disability that means they can't share a bedroom and they get a qualifying disability benefit.

The qualifying disability benefits are:

You may be able to get an additional bedroom if you, your partner, or your child has a disability that means they need someone to stay overnight to provide care and they get a qualifying disability benefit.

The qualifying disability benefits are:

You won't be entitled to any more than four bedrooms, however many people live in your household.

This could mean that your housing costs element will not cover all of your rent if your home is too expensive.

You can visit the LHA Direct website to find out what your Local Housing Allowance is.

If your rent is more than the LHA amount, you might be able to get help through a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Updated August 2021

4. Universal Credit (UC): How much will I get? I'm a social tenant

Your housing costs element will be based on your eligible rent. However, a size restriction is applied when calculating your award. This means that your eligible rent may not be taken into account in full if it's considered you have more bedrooms than your household actually needs.

You are allowed one bedroom for each category shown below:

  • You (and your partner if you have one)
  • Any other person over 16, as long as they aren't living with you as your tenant
  • Two children under 16 of the same gender
  • Two children under 10
  • Any other child under 16

Extra bedrooms

You may be able to get an additional bedroom if you, your partner or your child has a disability that means they can't share a bedroom and they get a qualifying disability benefit.

The qualifying disability benefits are:

You may be able to get an additional bedroom if you, your partner, or your child has a disability that means they need someone to stay overnight to provide care and they get a qualifying disability benefit.

The qualifying disability benefits are:

You may be able to get an extra bedroom if you are a foster parent, have registered as a foster parent in the past 12 months, or have had a child placed with you for fostering in the past 12 months.

Reductions

If your home is considered to be too big for you, your eligible rent which is used for the calculation will be reduced by:

  • 14% if you have one spare bedroom
  • 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.

Relation to Council Housing Allocation policies

These rules apply to the number of bedrooms you are considered to be entitled to for working out benefits entitlement. They do not affect the number of bedrooms your council's housing allocations policy will consider you to need. Councils can set different rules when allocating social housing. Get in touch with your council or get housing advice if you need to know how many bedrooms your council's housing policy will consider you to need.

Updated: August 2021

 

5. Universal Credit (UC): How much will I get? I'm a homeowner

Owner-occupiers who are leaseholders can get help with service charges paid as a housing element within Universal Credit. You normally have to serve a waiting period of approximately nine months from the date of your Universal Credit claim before you can receive this help.

Help with mortgage interest payments is available in the form of a loan on which you will be charged interest. This is separate from your claim for Universal Credit. Please read our Support for Mortgage Interest Loan guide for more detailed information about this loan. 

Waiting period

You will not receive a housing costs element for the first nine months after qualifying to have one included in your award. This is called a 'qualifying period'.

If you were receiving Income SupportJobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) immediately prior to your Universal Credit claim, the time spent on that benefit can count towards your qualifying period.

If you were already getting help with service charges paid as part of your Income Support, income-based JSA or income-related ESA in the month before you claimed Universal Credit, you will not have a waiting period before you get help with service charges in your Universal Credit.

Updated August 2021
 

 

6. Universal Credit (UC): What if I have another adult living with me?

If you have other adults living with you who aren’t your partner and do not have to pay rent, they might be treated as your non-dependent.

This means that an amount will be taken off your housing costs element because this other person is expected to help with the rent. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) call this a Housing Costs Contribution. 

You won’t have money taken off your housing costs element for a non-dependent if:

You also won’t have any money taken off your housing costs element for any other adult who:

If money is taken off your Universal Credit for a non-dependent, it will be taken at £75.53 per month for each other adult in your home.

Reviewed: August 2021
 

7. How will I be paid the Universal Credit (UC) housing costs element?

England and Wales

If you live in England or Wales and are getting help with your rent or service charges through Universal Credit, the housing costs element will usually be paid straight to your bank account. It will be your responsibility to make sure the right amount for your rent is paid to your landlord. 

If you think you are going to struggle to make sure the money for your rent does reach your landlord, you can ask for the amount for your rent to be paid direct to your landlord. This is called an Alternative Payment Arrangement or a Managed Payment to Landlords.

If you have a work coach. you should ask them about arranging to pay your rent direct to your landlord. If you don’t have a work coach, you should call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. You will need to explain in detail why you are struggling to manage your money on your own. If you have other debts, addiction problems or mental health difficulties you should explain this. 

If your request to have your rent money paid direct to your landlord is turned down, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but you cannot appeal it to an independent tribunal. If you are in this position, you should speak to an adviser to see if there is anything more you could do.

Scotland

If you live in Scotland, you can have your housing costs element paid direct to your landlord. You can’t set this up until after you have received your first payment of Universal Credit. You should write a note on your Journal asking for your housing costs element to be paid direct to your landlord. If the amount paid to your landlord by Universal Credit is less than your rent, you will still be responsible for making sure the rest of your rent is paid in full and on time to your landlord.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland your rent will be paid direct to your landlord unless you choose to opt out of this and have your rent paid to your own account. If the amount paid to your landlord by Universal Credit is less than your rent, you will still be responsible for making sure the rest of your rent is paid in full and on time to your landlord.

Further help

If you need extra help to cover your rent, you may be able to claim Discretionary Housing Payments from your local authority.

Reviewed: August 2021