As a tenant you will be responsible for paying rent and council tax. Should you have difficulties paying due to a low income, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit that may cover all or part of your rent.
What is housing benefit and who can get it?
Housing Benefit is a benefit that is paid to individuals on a low income by the local authority. Its purpose is to help with your rent. You may be eligible for Housing Benefit if you are in receipt of other benefits, work part-time or full-time but with a low income.
If you are receiving income-based benefits including Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, you automatically qualify for Housing Benefit, and most likely the maximum amount because you will fall under the income and capital threshold. If you and/or your partner have capital, such as savings, land or property, you may not be entitled to Housing Benefit, or the amount you receive will be limited, depending on the value of that capital. Various other rules apply for those who have reached pensionable age, students and care-leavers aged 16 or 17. Your local authority will be able to advise you further.
Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance are being phased out across the country and will eventually be replaced by Universal Credit.
Rent is paid in advance on the rent due date. Claimants of housing benefit should be aware that housing benefit payments are made in arrears. Regardless of this, rent is to be paid in advance on the date it is due.
What is council tax and who has to pay?
Council tax is collected by local authorities and goes to pay for their operations including schools, emergency services, street cleansing, gritting, and so on. Council tax is payable on most domestic properties by most people. As a tenant it is your responsibility to pay council tax, not your landlord’s. When you move into a new property, you must inform the local authority so that they can issue you the bill.
The amount of council tax charged is dependent on the property’s valuation band. Each band is assigned a different rate. You will usually receive a council tax bill in April, with the payments due in 10 instalments. Usually, there is only one liable person per property who is responsible for paying the council tax, however couples living together are jointly and severally liable.
Accruing council tax arrears could be grounds for eviction, so it is very important that you keep up to date with your payments and speak to your local authority if you are having difficulties paying. There are discounts for disabled people, single people living in properties alone, full-time students, and so on. Your local authority will be able to advise you if you are entitled to a reduction in your council tax.
Tenants are entitled to ask the landlord or letting agency how much the council tax is likely to be. This may be a deciding factor in whether or not to rent a particular property. It is public information so there is no reason why this information should be withheld.
How can Family Homes help?
Family Homes Property Services Ltd welcomes applications from people claiming housing benefit, however on occasion some landlords may require working people in their properties. Family Homes act as agents for local, national and international landlords, and the final decision who to place in each property remains with the landlord.
Regardless of the fact that the tenant is on housing benefit or working, the tenancy agreement is with the tenant and Family Homes acting as an agent for the landlord.
Family Homes have been in the property business for over 25 years in the Sittingbourne area. We are the leading and largest independent specialists in property lettings and management, and are able to provide advice to tenants on council tax and Housing Benefit. If you are considering renting a property, or are currently renting from Family Homes and need some assistance, please get in touch.