Housing Benefit (Northern Ireland) - How much Housing Benefit will I get?

Housing Benefit is money to help you with your housing costs if you are on a low income. It can help with rent, some service charges and also with rates. Housing Benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit.

Last reviewed 20 February 2023

How much Housing Benefit will I get?

It can be complicated to work out how much Housing Benefit you might get. You can use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator which will calculate how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.

If you get benefits like Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or the guarantee part of Pension Credit, you will get your maximum amount of Housing Benefit. Remember that even if you get your maximum amount of Housing Benefit, it will not necessarily cover all of your rent.

Even if you are working, you might get some Housing Benefit to help towards your rent. This depends on your income and savings and on your personal circumstances.

Bedroom entitlement

Part of the Housing Benefit calculation for private tenants is based on how many bedrooms you are thought to need for your household. You are allowed one bedroom for each category shown below:

  • Each adult couple
  • Each person over 16
  • Two children of the same sex under 16
  • Two children under 10, regardless of their sex
  • Any other child
  • An overnight carer you need but who doesn't normally live with you.

Private tenants also have a category meaning that most single people, under age 35, with no children or disabilities are only allowed one bedroom in shared accommodation, rather than a one bedroom property to themselves.

Some households are allowed an extra bedroom under the size criteria rules:

  • Foster carers who have had a child placed with them, or have registered as a carer, in the last 12 months
  • Parents of Armed Forces personnel or a student - while their child is away on duty or studying, their room won't be considered as 'spare' if they intend to return to it
  • Parents of a disabled child in receipt of middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - if they are unable to share a room with a sibling but would be expected to under normal size criteria rules.

When considering whether a child’s disability makes it unreasonable for them to share a bedroom, the factors a local authority should consider include:

  • Whether the child is currently sharing a bedroom without difficulty
  • Whether the frequency and nature of any overnight care causes prolonged and/or repeated disruption to another child
  • Whether the nature of the disability increases the likelihood that the child may behave disruptively during the night
  • Whether sharing a bedroom poses a risk of physical harm to either child
  • How long the situation is likely to last - to qualify for an extra bedroom, the inability to share would be expected to be long term.

Private tenants

If you are a private tenant and you have made a new claim or moved since April 2008, how much rent can be paid by Housing Benefit will be restricted by the (LHA).

Your LHA rate is based on rental prices in 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 your rent is considered to be too expensive.

If you are a private tenant, you can visit the Housing Executive website to find out what your is.

The Turn2us Benefits Calculator can calculate how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.

Social tenants

If you rent your home from a such as the Housing Executive or a housing association, and you are of , your Housing Benefit is not based on rental prices in your area. However, it may be reduced if it's considered you have more bedrooms than you actually need.

If your home is considered to be too big for you, the rent amount used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be cut by:

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

If you are over Pension Credit age, this size criteria does not affect your claim for Housing Benefit.

If you are affected by the changes to Housing Benefit that limit the number of bedrooms you are allowed, you should receive a Welfare Supplementary Payment. For more information about this, you can contact the Welfare Changes Helpline on 0808 802 0020.

What if I have other adults 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 Benefit because this other person is expected to help with the rent. 

You won’t have money taken off your Housing Benefit for a non-dependent if:

You also won’t have any money taken off your Housing Benefit for any other adult who:

If money is taken off your Housing Benefit for another adult, how much is taken off depends on the other adult’s earnings. It is important to make sure the Housing Executive has accurate information about the other adult’s earnings so they can make the right decision about your Housing Benefit.

Benefit Cap

Housing Benefit is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. For those affected, the cap is applied by reducing the amount of Housing Benefit awarded.

See our Benefit Cap guide for more details.

How will I be paid Housing Benefit?

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 rent or no rent yourself.

If you have a private landlord, you will be paid straight into your bank, building society or Post Office account or through the Payment Exception Service if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account. Sometimes the Housing Executive can pay your landlord directly.

Housing Benefit for rate relief reduces your rates bill.

Housing Benefit is usually paid in arrears every week, two weeks, four weeks or monthly, depending on when your rent is usually due.

Housing Benefit and other benefits

Housing Benefit counts in full as income when calculating your entitlement to other s.

Reviewed: February 2023


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