Housing Benefit: How to apply

Last updated 15 September 2015

Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance help you pay your rent if you are on benefits, get a pension or are working but on a low income.

The amount of benefit you get generally depends on:
  • Your income and benefits
  • Any other money, savings or investments you have
  • The income and savings of other people who live in your home

Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance has replaced Housing Benefit for some private tenants.

More about Local Housing Allowance

Who can claim?

You can claim Housing Benefit if you are working or unemployed, though usually only people on a low income or getting certain state benefits will qualify.

Most students and some people from abroad are not eligible to claim Housing Benefit, but please ask us first, as each case is different.

You cannot get Housing Benefit if you have more than £16,000 in savings, stocks and shares or other capital (not including some special payments such as War Atrocities Payments) unless you receive Guaranteed Pension Credit.

If you have savings between £6,000 and £16,000 they will be taken into account in calculating your income and may reduce the amount of Housing Benefit you receive.

If you are not sure if you earn too much to qualify, you should claim anyway.

How much benefit could I get?

Use our online benefits calculator to get an estimate of how much Housing Benefit  you could get. If, after using the calculator, you want to submit a formal claim you can use the information you entered in the calculator to start your claim form. This saves you having to enter details twice.

How to apply?

You can use the online claim form to apply for Housing Benefit (including Council Tax Support), Local Housing Allowance and free school meals from Waltham Forest Council.

Apply online

The service is available 24 hours a day. seven days a week and you can use it from the comfort of your home

Make a claim for Benefit now using our online form.

Apply by telephone

You can make an intention to claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support by telephone. We will register your interest to secure your start date. However, you must follow it up by completing an online claim form within a calendar month of the date of your telephone call.

You can now let us know that you want to apply without calling by completing an online intention to claim form

You can also report a change in your circumstances and make enquiries over the phone. This will ensure that you avoid potential Housing Benefit overpayments, which we may recover from you or your landlord,

You can call us on 020 8496 3000 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Visit us

Visit us at Leyton Library, Leytonstone Library, North Chingford Library or Walthamstow Library to:

  • Make an online claim for Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support or Free School Meals using our self service PCs
  • Report a change in your circumstances if you are already claiming benefit
  • Drop off evidence and information to support your benefit claim 

Home visit

If you are housebound and do not have any family or friends who can assist you, call the Visiting Team on 020 8496 8343 and leave a message. Please give a brief reason for your request and provide a contact telephone number so that a visiting officer can ring you to discuss if a visit is required. Alternatively, you can ring the Benefits Team on 020 8496 3000 and they will arrange for a visiting officer to contact you

What else do I need to do when I apply?

Once you have submitted your claim form you may be asked to provide evidence to support your claim. If you provide an email address within your application this list will be emailed to you.  

You can drop off evidence at one of the libraries listed above Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Evidence needed to support your claim

Not enough benefit

If you do not agree with our decision, for example if you think you are entitled to more benefit than we do, or if you think you should get more because we have made a mistake, you can:

  • Ask for an explanation of how we made our decision or calculated your benefit
  • Ask us to look at our decision again
  • Appeal.

More about how to appeal

If you think we have calculated your benefit correctly but you need more help with your housing costs (which can include council tax) you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

More about Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

Special cases

Single people under 35 (from January 2012)

There is a limit on how much Housing Benefit we can pay to single people under the age of 35 who live in private rented accommodation. Your housing benefit is limited to the "market rent" payable for a single room with shared use of kitchen and bathroom. This limit was known as the Single Room Rent, but is now called the Shared Accommodation Rate.

More about the Shared Accommodation rate

Civil partnerships and same sex couples

The Civil Partnership Act gives legal recognition to same sex couples.

For Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support purposes, this means that same sex couples who are living together in a civil partnership, or who are living together as if they were in a civil partnership, must now claim these benefits jointly. We will assess your claim based on your joint income and circumstances.

If this applies to your claim, please complete all the details for you and your partner on these forms. In addition, if you get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support but start living with someone as a couple at a later date, you must tell us about the change.

Benefit on two homes

You can ask for Housing Benefit to be paid on two addresses at the same time for a period of up to four weeks. We can pay you this ‘overlapping benefit’ if you have actually moved into your new home and we accept that you could not have reasonably avoided having to pay two rents for the same period.

More about benefit on two homes

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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See also

Contact details