Universal Credit and housing costs
Help with rent in Universal Credit
For most working age tenants Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit and the help with your rent will be paid directly to you instead of your landlord. If you struggle to manage money or have other difficulties you could get an arrangement where your rent money still gets paid directly to your landlord see Alternative Payment Arrangements. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you get to choose whether to have help with your rent paid to you or your landlord directly.
Universal Credit could help meet the cost of:
- the amount of your rent (excluding any payment towards arrears)
- any eligible service charges
- if you live in a houseboat, caravan or mobile home, any site rent, mooring fees or waterway licence fees
If you live in a private sector property, it may not cover your full rent as it will take account of where you live and, if you are under age 35, whether you are expected to share accommodation.
If you live in a council or housing association property you will be asked about the number of bedrooms you have to compare with how many you are thought to need, to see if you are under occupying the property.
For more information see help with rent through Universal Credit.
Help with Mortgage Interest in Universal Credit
You may receive a loan to help with interest payable on any mortgages or loans secured on your property. There are separate rules that explain this. For more information see Support for mortgage interest.
Help with service charges in Universal Credit
The Universal Credit Housing Costs element may also include an amount towards service charges.
These service charges must be a condition of your rent or leasehold agreement and can only be for the following:
- general maintenance of the building, for example outside repairs and window cleaning
- general upkeep of communal areas, for example gardens and hallways
- basic shared services, for example lifts and rubbish collection
- specified accommodation costs, for example basic furniture or domestic appliances
Your landlord should be able to tell you which service charges are eligible.
When the Universal Credit Housing Costs element is not payable
If you're not responsible for paying housing costs and don't make any other payments to live in the property, you won't get the Universal Credit Housing Costs element.
You can't get the Housing Costs element if you are living with, and paying rent to:
- your partner
- parent or guardian
- step parent
- other close relative
- a company owned by one of the above
- a trust administered by one of the above
You will not get the Housing Costs element if you live in supported accommodation, where your landlord provides care, support or supervision. This includes housing such as a women's refuge, a homeless hostel or a group care home. In these cases help with your housing costs will still be dealt with by your local council through Housing Benefit.
Deduction for other people ("non-dependants") in your household
You must report details about anyone living with you who is not dependant on you, for example a grown-up son or daughter or an older relative, as you may have a Housing Costs Contribution deducted from your Universal Credit award.
Under Housing Benefit rules this was called a Non-Dependant Deduction and varied according to the circumstances and income of the non dependant. Under Universal Credit rules there is a flat rate contribution (deduction) each month regardless of the non-dependant's income, for 2023/24 this is £85.73 a month.
There will be no contribution expected of non-dependants who are under 21 or are 21 or over and:
- receiving Pension Credit
- receiving certain disability benefits for example the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
- receiving Carer's Allowance
- the primary carer for a child aged 4 or under
Exemptions from a deduction / contribution due to your circumstances
If you or your partner are registered blind or claiming Disability Living Allowance care component (for Universal Credit it must be the middle or higher rate), Personal Independence Payment daily living component or Attendance Allowance then a non-dependant deduction or housing cost contribution will not be taken from your benefits regardless of your non-dependant's circumstances. The calculator automatically recognises these cases.
Moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit
Since April 2018, if you are transferring from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit your Housing Benefit payment will continue for an extra 2 weeks after the start of your Universal Credit claim.
This extra 2 weeks of Housing Benefit is to help with your housing costs while you wait for your first payment of Universal Credit, which will take at least five weeks.
The payment will be made automatically when you apply for Universal Credit and you don't need to pay it back. It also won't affect how much Universal Credit you get.