How much Housing Benefit and Rate Relief a homeowner can get

Housing Benefit and Rate Relief help a homeowner pay domestic rates on their property. The award is means-tested. When you apply, Land & Property Services (LPS) assesses your income, savings and household circumstances. This determines if you’ll get any help to pay your rates.

Universal Credit

You can't claim Housing Benefit for rates if you receive Universal Credit.  To get help paying your rates, you must claim Rate Rebate.

How LPS assesses an application for Housing Benefit and Rate Relief

The amount of Housing Benefit and Rate Relief depends on your income and household circumstances.

LPS takes into account:

  • income to your household, including benefits and earnings
  • the amount of capital you have, including savings, shares and additional properties
  • disregarded income - certain benefits or savings below a set amount

These factors make up your 'qualifying income'.

Applicable amount

LPS compares your qualifying income  to your applicable amount. This is the weekly amount the government says you and your family need to maintain a basic standard of living, based on your particular circumstances.

Weekly income lower than your applicable amount

If your qualifying income is lower than your applicable amount, you might be entitled to additional help from:

  • Social Security Agency
  • Northern Ireland Pension Centre
  • HM Revenue & Customs tax credits

Weekly income higher than your applicable amount

If your qualifying income is higher than your applicable amount, you might be eligible for some Housing Benefit and Rate Relief. When this happens, you will receive a bill for some of your rates which you must pay.

If other adults live in your home, other than your partner or joint owner, LPS assumes they contribute to rate payments even if they don’t. You might lose some of your Housing Benefit and Rate Relief award. 

You are awarded Housing Benefit and Rate Relief

LPS will send you a decision letter about your application.

If you are awarded Housing Benefit and Rate Relief which covers your weekly rates, you don’t pay any rates for this period.

You are awarded some Housing Benefit and Rate Relief

When you get partial Housing Benefit and Rate Relief, you’re responsible for paying the rates that aren’t covered by the award. Your decision letter will explain how much rates you have to pay weekly.

 What Housing Benefit and Rate Relief covers

The Housing Benefit and Rate Relief amount is for the rating period covered by the award. Your total rate bill may be different if you owe rates for earlier periods. You will receive a rate  bill telling you how much you must pay and when payment is due. If you don’t pay your rate bill, LPS will take legal action against you.

If you’re awarded the maximum amount, this will cover your rate bill in full. If your award does not cover your full rates, you’ll have to pay the rates not covered.

How Housing Benefit and Rate Relief is paid to homeowners

If you are entitled to any Housing Benefit and Rate Relief, LPS credits the amount to your rate account. You don’t receive the money from LPS. 

When Housing Benefit and Rate Relief are paid

Housing Benefit and Rate Relief are paid to the end of the rating year in one of these ways:

  • a lump sum for the whole rating year 1 April to 31 March
  • from the start of your claim to the end of the rating year

Changes to your income or household

If you receive Housing Benefit and Rate Relief and your personal or household circumstances change, you must tell LPS about the changes. Certain changes can affect your entitlement to help paying your rates.

You’ll need to tell LPS when:

  • you, your partner or another person in the household begins or ends employment or changes the number of hours worked weekly
  • Child Benefit entitlement ends
  • there are changes to social benefits you or another person in your household receives
  • there are changes to capital you or another person in your household owns
  • people leave or join your household
  • children in your household leave school, start work or begin receiving benefits
  • you or your partner goes to prison, hospital or into a nursing home

If your Housing Benefit and Rate Relief entitlement changes during the year, the rates you have to pay could  increase or decrease.

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