How is housing benefit paid?

It is paid directly into your bank account, or your landlord’s bank account.

Who can housing benefit be paid to?

If one of the following applies to you, you can ask for your benefit to be paid to you, to your landlord, or to your landlord’s agent:

  • you are a local authority tenant
  • you are a tenant of a registered social landlord (housing association)
  • you have a registered or 'fair' rent
  • you have been renting the same property since before January 1989
  • you live in supported housing provided by a social landlord or charity
  • you rent a caravan, houseboat, or live in a hostel
  • you have been claiming housing benefit continuously since before 7th April 2008.

If you rent from a private landlord, your housing benefit will normally be paid to you.

How often will housing benefit be paid?

Housing benefit is paid every two weeks or four weeks. It is paid in arrears (at the end of the two weeks or four weeks, for which it is due).

If housing benefit is paid directly to your landlord, it will be paid at the end of every four weeks.

Can a bank take housing benefit to pay my overdraft?

No, banks are not allowed to use housing benefit or any other benefit to repay an overdraft.

You can protect your housing benefit payments by telling your bank it should only be used to pay your rent. This protection is called a 'first right of appropriation of funds order'.

You can use the first right of appropriation on any money being paid into your account.

For example, you may want to make sure that your job seekers allowance is used to pay your electricity bill and water rates.

You will need to tell your bank how to use these payments.

Can my claim be backdated if I apply late?

Working age customers

If you are working, on income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance, your housing benefit can be back dated for a maximum of one month from the date you apply.

Your council tax support claim can be backdated for a maximum of six months from the date you apply.

You must have a good reason for not applying earlier.

Pension age customers

Your housing benefit or council tax support can be backdated for a maximum of three months from the date you apply.

You can ask for backdated benefit on the council tax support and housing benefit claim form.