Claiming for Housing Benefit when you are single and under 35

Updated: 22 Feb 2018
You may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment
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There are specific Housing Benefit rules that apply if you are single and under 35. This is an overview of those rules - if you require more detailed information about your own circumstances please call us on 03448 920 902.

Can a single person without children apply for Housing Benefit?

Yes, you do not need to have children to apply for Housing Benefit. However if you are a single person who lives alone and you are under the age of 35 living in private rented accommodation, it is likely that the Housing Executive will restrict the amount of Housing Benefit you receive to a Shared Accommodation Rate.

What is a Shared Accommodation Rate?

A Shared Accommodation Rate is the rent level that is allowed for someone who has access to one bedroom only and shares the use of a bathroom, kitchen and living room within the conditions of their tenancy agreement.
If you are under 35 we will allow a Shared Accommodation Rate rent level even where you may have self contained accommodation with full access to your own individual bedroom(s), kitchen, bathroom and living room within the terms of your tenancy.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes there are a number of exceptions. A Shared Accommodation Rate will not be applied to a single person under 35 in any of the following circumstances:
  • You are a Housing Executive tenant
  • You are the tenant of a Registered Housing Association, a Registered Charity, Voluntary Organisation or Health Trust
  • Your home is subject to the 1978 Rent Order
  • Your tenancy is subject to the Private Tenancies Act (2006)
  • You are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, no one else is receiving Carers Allowance on your behalf, no one over the age of 18 is living with you and you have been awarded a severe disability premium
  • You meet the conditions for an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need, but who doesn’t normally live with you
  • Someone else lives with you (as a member of your household) who is unable to claim Housing Benefit in their own right
  • You are under 22 and were the subject of a Care Order before the age of 16
The shared room rate will not be applied if you are between the age of 25 and 34 and
  • You have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community OR
  • You are managed under active multi-agency management under the Public Protection Arrangements for Northern Ireland.

What will happen if the only properties available are self contained flats or houses?

It does not matter what accommodation is available in your area. The law prevents the Housing Executive from paying more than the Shared Accommodation Rate unless you qualify as one of the exceptions listed earlier.

I won’t have enough money to pay my rent, what can I do?

You can explain your circumstances to your landlord and ask if the rent can be reduced or you can try to find cheaper accommodation. If you are having difficulty paying your rent you can also apply to the Housing Executive for a Discretionary Housing Payment. The funds for this payment however are limited and if you were successful it may only be allowed for a relatively short period of time.

How can I find out how much rent I will be allowed?

You can call in to your local Housing Executive District Office or call us on 03448 920 902 to obtain details of the Shared Accommodation Rate that would be allowed for any area in Northern Ireland. Anyone can make this type of enquiry whether they are single and under 35 or not.
You will then be able to decide if you can afford to meet the payments on any given property before you agree to move in, taking into account that you will have to pay any shortfall between the actual charges and your Housing Benefit award yourself.

My landlord has asked for a deposit - will this be paid by Housing Benefit?

No, Housing Benefit is only payable for weekly rent and rates charges and not to cover deposits. You can however make enquiries with the Social Security Agency who may be able to offer a loan from the Social Fund for this purpose.

What other factors are taken into account when calculating any entitlement to Housing Benefit?

Having decided on a rent level to be used in the calculation of Housing Benefit, the Housing Executive must carry out a means test and where necessary consider if any non dependant deductions apply.

Means Test

We compare your actual weekly income with the amount Government states you need to live on each week. If your actual weekly income is higher than the amount set by Government, you will need to use some of this money to contribute towards your rent and rates changes.

Non Dependant Deductions

If another person lives with you and has their own individual source of income, we may reduce the amount of any Housing Benefit award that is due to you. This is because that other person may be expected to contribute towards your rent and rates charges