2. Housing Benefit
You could get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income and paying rent. (If you live in privately rented accommodation you may be eligible for a Local Housing Allowance).
You may also be eligible for Discretionary Housing Payments if your Housing Benefit is less than the full amount of your rent.
Council Tax Reduction
You can claim money off your Council Tax, called ‘Council Tax Reduction’, on the same online form as you claim Housing Benefit.
You may also qualify for other discounts on your Council Tax. Sorry, you need to claim those discounts on another part of the website.
So when you have claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, go to Money off your Council Tax.
View you claim
You can view a summary of a current claim online in My Account:
Oldham Council pay housing benefit by BACS only. We no longer make payment by Cheque. You will need to provide relevant bank details so we can pay your housing benefit, by completing a BACS transfer form:
If your landlord is a housing association then you will have the choice of having your housing benefit paid to yourself or your landlord.
If your landlord is a private landlord, under the local housing allowance scheme we will normally make payment to you by BACS.
If you feel you would not be able to cope with receiving the benefit payments then please provide this information to us, by completing a safeguard application form
If payment is made to you, then you will be paid fortnightly in arrears.
If payment is made to your landlord, then they will be paid monthly in arrears.
Spare Room Subsidy
Spare Room Subsidy cuts the amount of Housing Benefit that you can get if you are considered to have a spare bedroom.
Only working age people are affected. If you are of working age and live with a pensioner, the reduction will be applied to the eligible rent (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) before the Council apportions the share of the rent for benefit purposes.
Mr and Mrs Freestone are an elderly mother and adult son who share the tenancy of a 3 bed Council house.
The rent for the property is £80 per week.
According to the government's rules they need a 2 bed house, so their eligible rent will reduce to £68.80 because a 14% reduction will apply as Mr Freestone is over accommodated.
The restriction does not apply to Mrs Freestone, so her Housing Benefit will be based on £40pw.
Mr Freestone will therefore have his benefit based on a restricted rent of £28.80.
At the moment there is no general exemption for disabled people, as the government have stated that there is already sufficient allowance for disabled people through the provision for an extra room where the tenant has an overnight carer.
Sheltered Housing exemption
The only exception at the moment is people living in supported accommodation (sheltered housing).
How will the number of bedrooms needed be worked out?
You will be allowed one bed room for each of the following:
- Every adult couple
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any two children regardless of sex aged under 10
- Any other child aged under sixteen
- Non resident carer (claimant/partner have disability and need overnight care)
- A foster child
- A son/daughter in the armed forces (who normally lives at the property)
If you have more bedrooms than allowed for by the size criteria then you are under-occupying and your Housing Benefit is likely to be reduced.
What counts as a bedroom?
When your landlord sets the rent they will normally have to define the number of bedrooms you have and this should be stated on your tenancy agreement.
How much will your Housing Benefit be reduced by?
If you live in property that is under occupied then the ‘eligible rent’ (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by a percentage:
- One bedroom too many: 14% reduction
- Two or more bedrooms too many: 25% reduction
Information for landlords
Housing Benefit is a benefit paid to tenants to help towards the cost of their rent. The Council administer this benefit but the Government sets the rules on who can get Housing Benefit and how much they are entitled to.
How much Housing Benefit a tenant gets depends on:
- the money coming into the household including earnings, some benefits and tax credits and things like occupational pensions
- the size of the household and age of family member
- the level of rent charged. (The maximum amount of rent upon which the council can normally base its calculations is decided by the Rent Service.)
Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is for tenants renting a property or room from a private landlord and on a low income.
How do tenants apply for Housing Benefit?
To claim Housing benefit your tenant must complete a Housing benefit Application Form.
Your tenant will need to provide original documents proving their identification, rent, income, and savings.
If your tenants asks you to complete a rent proof form, please do this as soon as possible to avoid delaying their claim.
If your tenant has a current, written tenancy agreement which includes details of the rent charged this may be all the rent information that the Housing Benefit Office needs.
Housing Benefit can only be paid direct to a landlord if one of the following criteria is met:
- The landlord is a Housing Association and the tenant requests direct payments
- You provide meals and your tenant request direct payments
- Your tenant has difficulty in managing their own finances and so are unlikely to pay their rent. Your tenant would have to provide this information to us, which they can do by completing a safeguard application form
- The tenant is over 8 weeks in arrears with their rent. If your tenant pays rent in advance, advance payments can be included in your 8 weeks in arrears. For example, your tenant pays the rent 4 weeks in advance, the 8 weeks in arrears can be calculated as 4 weeks in arrears & the 4 weeks advance payment
- Your tenant is entitled to Local Housing Allowance and you have reduced the rent to a level which is affordable to your tenant
To apply for payment direct to a landlord you need to have a rent direct form completed by your tenant with all the relevant information.
What happens next?
The complex benefit rules means that it can sometimes take a few weeks to collect all the information and then calculate the benefit. During this time your tenant may make enquiries to us about the progress of the claim. You will not be able to do so, as the Housing Benefit Office cannot pass information on to a third party.
When the claim has been worked out the Housing Benefit Office will write to let your tenant know how much benefit they will get or why they do not qualify.