Universal Credit: claiming rent payments for private landlords is possible | Personal Finance

The housing element of Universal Credit is designed to cover some or all of the rental payments for claimants. How much is given will depend on certain factors like where the house is, the size of it and whether the person is a private or social tenant. Payments can also be affected if the claimant is receiving other benefits.

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If the person is renting from a private landlord they will receive the payment which needs to be paid directly to the landlord.

This is different to the previously used housing benefit system, where the money was paid directly to the landlord without going through the tenant.

Through Universal Credit, the claimant may also be able to receive council tax reductions.

There are many things which can end up affecting the amount paid.

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Rent support

Universal Credit can be used to help with rent (Image: GETTY)

Housing costs

There is also support for other types of housing costs (Image: GETTY)

For households that include someone who is aged 21 or over, the payment will not be reduced if claimants are any of the following:

getting the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rategetting the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)getting Attendance Allowancegetting Armed Forces Independence Paymentregistered as blindgetting Pension Creditgetting the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rategetting the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)getting Attendance Allowancegetting Armed Forces Independence Paymentgetting Carer’s Allowanceresponsible for a child under 5a member of the armed forces away on operations, and is your child or step-childyour sub-tenant, lodger or boardera prisoner

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For anyone under the age of 35 and not living with a partner there is a limit on what can be claimed.

The most that can be received here is rental payments covering a single room in a shared house.

This specific element is called the Local Housing Allowance shared accommodation rate (SAR). 

The amount of bedrooms in a property will also affect the amounts given. The government provides a tool for working out what the claimant is eligible for, with the amount being based on location, household size, income levels and circumstances.

Commuter rent

Living in commuter towns can raise the cost of renting (Image: EXPRESS)


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It’s also possible to claim Universal Credit on two homes so long as a family member moved out because of fear of violence or abuse, is paying rent somewhere else, and intends to come back.

It’s possible to do this if an individual has started renting a new home with a disabled family member but it has not been adapted to their needs yet.

There is also support for those who fall on tough times. If the claimant is behind on rent an “alternative payment arrangement” can be organised, which allows the money to be directly given to the landlord.

Where the Universal Credit payments do not cover all the rent, a “discretionary housing payment” can be requested from the local council.


Spare rooms

Having spare rooms can effect how much Universal Credit is received (Image: GETTY)Renting from local authorities or housing associations

The rules for utilising Universal Credit for renting and housing costs from these bodies is very similar to renting from private landlords. There are however a few notable differences. One of the key elements that affects these differences is the size of the family involved and/or size of the property.

The housing authority may choose to house families across two properties due to their size, in which case Universal Credit will be able to be used for both homes. The payments can be reduced if the claimant has more rooms than strictly needed. This is called a “removal of the spare room subsidy”.

In these circumstances, there will be a reduction of 14 percent on homes with one spare bedroom and a 25 percent reduction on two or more.

Application process

As with many official processes these days the application will be done online. Once the application has been done, the claimant may be invited to interview at a local Jobcentre Plus. The claimant should be told of what documents will be needed for the interview, examples of which can include a rent book or details for any mortgage agreements.

So long as the claim is approved, an estimated payment date will be provided within three weeks of the initial date. The Universal Credit helpline can be contacted if there are any issues, but the government makes a point of detailing that it will be easiest to use the online journal tool.