Can I get Housing Benefit

What you’ll get

You can claim Housing Benefit if you're a council, housing association or private tenant.  

There are different rules for private and public tenants. If you're a private tenant, what you can get will depend on your Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

Whether you're a private, council or housing association tenant we'll work out your Housing Benefit based on:

  • eligible rent
  • if you have a spare room
  • your household income; including benefits, pensions and savings (if they’re over £6,000)
  • the status of people you live with, such as their age or if they have a disability

Eligible rent

Eligible rent means the reasonable rent for a suitable property in Southwark. It includes service charges (for example for lift maintenance or a communal laundry) but not things like heating.

Spare bedrooms

We may reduce your Housing Benefit if you’re less than 65 years old, live in council or social housing and have a spare bedroom. This is sometimes called a bedroom tax.

The reduction is:

  • 14% of the eligible rent for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the eligible rent for 2 or more spare bedrooms

How many bedrooms you’re allowed

One bedroom for each of the following:

  • a couple
  • a person aged 16 or over
  • a child who can't share a bedroom because of a disability or a medical condition
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 years old (regardless of sex)
  • a child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, for example if you have 3 children and 2 already share
  • a non-resident overnight carer for you or your partner

One spare bedroom for:

  • an approved foster carer who is between placements (up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement)
  • a newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time

If you’re a council or housing association tenant

Housing Benefit can pay up to the full amount of your rent. It can't pay for personal service charges such as water rates, heating or meals.

If you rent from a private landlord

If you rent from a private landlord your Housing Benefit is called Local Housing Allowance (LHA). You can get up to the maximum LHA amount for the type of property your household needs.  If your rent is higher than the LHA amount or you have more bedrooms than your household needs, Housing Benefit may not pay all of your rent.

Check current LHA rates for your property. 

The maximum LHA rate is capped at the 4 bedroom rate. So, if your household needs 5 bedrooms or more, your rent will be restricted to the 4 bedroom rate.

We can't pay more money in Housing Benefit than the amount you pay in rent.

How much Housing Benefit you might get

Use our benefit calculator for an estimate of how much Housing Benefit you could get.

Page last updated: 02 March 2023


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