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Calculating housing benefit rates

The government has established several incentives for making people live comfortably without paying too much on rents. One of these incentives is the housing benefit. Housing benefits are rent allowances that are given to tenants to help them pay off their rents. The allowance is usually less than the rent of the house. The tenant is expected to pay off the rest of the rent from his personal income. The housing benefit rates that resident can receive vary. Generally, the larger a household is, the more allowance he will receive.

Eligibility for Housing benefits

The Housing Executives administer housing benefits. The benefits are usually geared towards making low-income earners pay their rents easily. Some of the biggest beneficiaries of these benefits are those receiving state benefits, those working in part-time employment, and low-income earners. These people tend to struggle with rent payments and are more predisposed to homelessness. Housing benefits are also available to people living in hostels, lodgers and those living in bed and breakfast accommodation. Anyone who pays for tenancy and accommodation can apply for the benefits. The benefits are however not available to people living with close relatives and are not paying rents to Housing Associations, private companies or private landlords.

How much can you get?

There are many criteria for determining the amount of housing benefit that each household can get. One of these criteria is the amount of rent you pay and the type of landlord owning your property. The housing executive spends a portion of each tenant’s rent. The rest is paid for from the income of the household. If your landlord is a private freeholder, he may be forced by law to charge you lesser rent. Rents for tenants under the age of 35 who are living in a property of a private landlord can be subjected to shared accommodation rates.

The other criterion is the “means test”. Means test weighs the income of a tenant against the amount of rent he has to pay. It also puts into consideration the number of people in a household. The housing executive compares personal allowance with eligible income to decide whether to increase or decrease housing benefit to a household. The personal allowance is the state projection of what each household should spend in one week. The eligible income is what the household earns. If available income is more than personal allowance, the housing benefit will reduce. The means test is not applicable to those receiving passported benefits. They are automatically assumed to be earning zero eligible incomes.

Other things to know

Deductions from housing benefit can also be based on the number of people over the age of 18 years whom you are living with. The amount of housing benefit you receive will reduce if the person you are living with does not financially depend on you. The size of the reduction depends on the non-dependant's age, the type and amount of his income. The more non-dependant adults you live with, the lesser you will receive from the Housing Executive. These reductions will not be applied if you are receiving care from the person, or when you are blind.

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