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Universal credit housing costs amount

A ‘housing costs amount’ may be included in your award if you pay rent. The amount can also cover some service charges.

If you are a private tenant, your housing costs amount will not necessarily cover all your rent but will be restricted to a set amount: the ‘cap rent’. This cap rent will depend on where your home is situated and the number of rooms you are considered to need.

Deductions will be made from the amount if you have non-dependants living with you.

If you are renting social housing (from your local authority or from a housing association), your housing costs amount may be reduced if the property you rent is considered to be under occupied: the ‘bedroom tax’. This is worked out using the ‘size criteria’. The deduction will be 14% for one ‘spare’ bedroom and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.

Deductions will also be made from the amount if you have non-dependants living with you.

If you are in temporary accommodation or specified accommodation housing support will continue to be met through housing benefit rather than universal credit. 

If you own or are buying your home, the housing costs amount can cover some service charges. There is normally a ‘qualifying period’ of nine months before the amount can be included in your award. You will not be entitled to the amount if you are in paid work.

If you own your own home, you can, if you wish, get loans to cover the interest you pay on your mortgage: 'support for mortgage interest'. You will have to pay this back when your property is sold. 

You may be able to get ‘discretionary housing payments’ (DHPs) if your universal credit does not cover all your housing costs and your local authority accepts that you need some further financial assistance.

You must claim a DHP from your local authority; most local authorities will have a form on which to claim. You can view the Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual at www.gov.uk/government/publications/discretionary-housing-payments-guidance-manual

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