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Housing benefit - rent and eligible rent

If you are entitled, the housing benefit you receive will generally only cover the 'eligible rent'. The 'eligible rent' may be less than your actual rent.


You may be able to claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent if you are living in:

  • private rented accommodation (called Local Housing Allowance)
  • council or housing association accommodation
  • a hostel
  • mobile home
  • board and lodgings
  • other similar accommodation.

You cannot claim housing benefit if you (and/or your partner) have more than 16,000 in savings, unless you are over 60 and get the guaranteed pension credit.

If you are entitled, the housing benefit you receive will generally only cover the eligible rent. However, the eligible rent may be less than your actual rent. In any event it will not cover any parts of the rent that are for heating, water rates, food, fuel or some service charges.

If you are a private tenant, and you have claimed since 7 April 2008, you will receive Local Housing Allowance and the rules are different. Your benefit will be based on the LHA rate for the month of your claim, and we will normally pay the LHA direct to the claimant. We will normally only pay the landlord direct in exceptional cases.

Eligible rent (for private tenant claims before 7 April 2008)

A calculation of your rent allowance is based on the 'eligible rent', which is often less than the actual rent you pay.

The following areas are those which may result in the eligible rent used in the calculation of your rent allowance being less than the rent you pay to your landlord:

The rent officer, when assessing the rent for benefit purposes, provides the council with a number of figures which are used in a formula to calculate the eligible rent. Dependent on various market forces, the figure used may be less than the rent you pay.

If you are single and under the age of 25, the eligible rent will probably be restricted to the equivalent of the rent for a single room.

Some service charges that may be included in your rent may not be included in the eligible rent figure. These include:

  • meals
  • fuel charges
  • water charges
  • laundering done for you
  • cleaning your room
  • counselling and Support services
  • medical and nursing care
  • the unreasonable part of any excessive charge.

If in doubt, always seek advice from the housing benefit office or your own welfare rights advisor.

Page ref: SDDC 236