The amount of rent and Council Tax you are charged is not necessarily the amount we will use when we work out your benefit. In many instances they will be reduced for benefit purposes and called the Eligible Rent or Eligible Council Tax.
This is simply the maximum amount of benefit you can claim against your rent or Council Tax.
If your eligible rent or Council Tax is reduced in this way then you have to pay the difference even if you qualify for full benefit Eligible Rent.
Reasons why we will apply this rule include:
- If you are a private tenant we will ask the Rent Officer to calculate the amount of rent a person with your family circumstances would reasonably have to pay.
- For example single people will not have the same room requirements as a family with two teenage children and would therefore not be expected to rent accommodation which is larger than their needs. Consequently the rent officer will determine the eligible rent for a single person to be less than that of a family.
- If you are a joint tenant with someone who is not your partner the eligible rent will be based on your share of the rent. Benefit will not be calculated for the remainder of the rent unless those joint tenants apply in their own right.
- Your rent may include amounts for service charges like heating, lighting, meals etc, these may not be counted for benefit purposes.
- Most council tenants pay for their water rates as part of their rent but water rates are not covered by housing benefit and so this is deducted to give the eligible rent for the property.
- The water rates must still be paid to the council.
- When there are other adults, not including your partner, living in your home. This is called a non-dependant deduction.
If you are thinking of taking up a new tenancy agreement with a landlord (other than the council) then you can apply via the council to work out the eligible rent for the property (the maximum amount of benefit you can get).
If the landlord agrees to this the council will forward the details to the rent officer who will then calculate the eligible rent for the property. You can then see whether it is worthwhile taking up the tenancy before signing any agreement. This is called a Pre Tenancy Determination.
Eligible Council Tax
As with rent, the amount of Council Tax we use to work out your benefit may be restricted.
The reason for this is:
When there are other adults, not including your partner, living in your home. This is called a non-dependent charge and is used to limit the amount of Council Tax you can claim benefit on.
Your Council Tax bill will normally show the amount due for the year but to calculate your benefit this will be broken down to weekly amounts. However your bill will show the equivalent benefit for the whole year.