If you’re a private tenant, how much Housing Benefit you can get depends on:
your council’s Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates (the maximum rent allowed for properties in your area)
the number of bedrooms your household needs, up to a maximum of four.
If you’re disabled and receive regular overnight care from a carer who doesn’t live with you, an extra bedroom for the carer to stay overnight is usually allowed.
You can find out what the LHA is in your area from your local council or the Valuation Office Agency. If your rent is more than the maximum, you’ll have to make up the difference. You may be able to get short-term help from the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If your Housing Benefit doesn't cover all your rent, you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Contact your local council to find out how to apply or visit Gov.uk for more information.
You may also be able to get a one-off payment for costs such as rent deposits or rent in advance.
Your council decides whether to award a DHP, for how long and how much you’ll get, based on your circumstances. Give as much information as possible when you apply, such as:
details of your income and outgoings
any disabilities you have
any other benefits you receive.
You should explain why it's so difficult for you to pay the shortfall in your rent.
Help if you have a mortgage
If you own your home, you may qualify for a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan. This is help with interest payments on your mortgage and on certain loans for repairs or improvements to your home.
SMI is paid in the form of a loan, which must be repaid when you die or sell your home. If you were receiving it as a benefit before 6 April 2018, you won’t have to repay the money you’ve already received and you have the option to take out an SMI loan. Visit MoneyHelper for more information.
An SMI loan is calculated using a standard rate of interest, not your lender’s rate. It’s only available to cover interest, not the amount borrowed. There is an upper limit on the amount you can claim.
Who can claim it?
You may qualify for an SMI loan if you're not working and you're getting one of the following benefits:
SMI is usually paid direct to your lender. If you’re on Pension Credit or you’ve reached Pension Credit qualifying age, this should happen straightaway. You’ll have to wait 39 weeks if you’re working age, or until you've received nine consecutive payments if you're getting Universal Credit.
It’s a good idea to get advice before you decide whether to take out an SMI loan. Contact Citizens Advice for help.