Rent, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit

Your rent is used towards repairs and on-going maintenance to your home. It is also used to repay any money Sanctuary borrowed to build or modernise your home.

The rent you pay changes in line with inflation each year. The full details are set out in your tenancy agreement.

  • Who will amend my Direct Debit for rent changes?
    We will advise your bank of any changes to your rent.
  • Who will amend my Standing Order if my rent changes?
    You will need to contact your bank to make any changes to a Standing Order
  • I receive Housing Benefit. What do I do about rent increases?
    Please send a copy of the rent increase letter you receive to your Local Authority Housing Benefit section. We will also let the Housing Benefit department know about any changes.
     

In recent years there have been a number of changes to how housing benefit is awarded. These changes may have an impact on the amount of benefit you can claim and may mean you are no longer able to afford the property you want to rent or are currently renting. You should seek advice immediately if any of the welfare reform changes are affecting your ability to pay your rent.

Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds

Since 1 April 2017, some 18 to 21 year olds claiming Universal Credit are no longer entitled to help with housing costs.

The change only applies in Universal Credit full service areas. The following 18 to 21 year olds are still able to get help with their housing costs:

  • those receiving Universal Credit housing costs prior to 1 April 2017 until they move off Universal Creditor cease to claim those housing costs
  • certain vulnerable residents
  • those unable to live with their parents
  • those claiming as a couple
  • those who are not subject to all work-related requirements for receiving Universal Credit
  • those who are in work, subject to minimum earnings
  • those who have recently left work, subject to minimum earnings (In this case the help is available for a limited period)

Young people on Housing Benefit are not affected unless they stop claiming Housing Benefit, then at a later date make a claim for housing support through Universal Credit.

More information can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-costs-for-18-to-21-year-olds (this link will open in a new window).

If your home is considered too large for you under the new Government rules, you will have your Housing Benefit cut if you have a bedroom that you are not using. The new rules allow one bedroom for:

  • A couple
  • A person who is 16 or older
  • A child
  • Two children of the same gender until their 16th birthday
  • Two children of different genders until their 10th birthday
  • A child who cannot share a room due to disabilities (and is receiving relevant benefits)
  • Each member of a couple who cannot share due to disabilities (and at least one member is in receipt of relevant benefit)
  • A person who stays overnight to provide care (to a person receiving a relevant benefit)

What will you lose?

One spare bedroom - 14% of your eligible rent is cut from your Housing Benefit

Two or more spare bedrooms - 25% of your eligible rent is cut from your Housing Benefit.

From autumn 2016, the benefits cap was reduced. If you live in Greater London, the cap was reduced to £23,000 for couples with/without children and to £15,410 for single people without children. If you live elsewhere in the country, the cap was reduced to £20,000 and £13,400 respectively.

The benefits included in the cap are: Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

If these benefits total more than the yearly allowance, then Housing Benefit is reduced to bring your income under the cap. This is equal to £442.31 per week for couples/families living in Greater London and £384.61 per week for couples/families living elsewhere in the UK.

Please contact your local Income Advisor for details regarding exemptions to the Benefit Cap.

For more information about the benefit cap changes, visit the GOV.UK website (this link will open in a new window). 

Universal Credit is a new single benefit for working-age people. It replaces means-tested benefits, such as:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Tax credits
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears to only one member of the household unless certain exceptions apply. You will be expected to manage a budget and pay rent costs direct to your landlord. It is expected that a claim will be in payment after 6 weeks of making it.

Universal Credit will mainly affect working age people, however for mixed age couples; where one partner is of working age and the other has reached Pension Credit qualifying age, they will have to claim Universal Credit rather than Pension Credit.

Universal Credit is being rolled out gradually across the country and is expected to cover all benefit claims by 2018.  View Gov.UK's Universal Credit and You factsheet (Link to PDF) 

How do I make a claim?

Claims for Universal Credit can only be made online in one session. Therefore it is important to have all the relevant information to hand before you start the application process as claims cannot be saved for a later date.