Housing Benefit if you rent from a family member or ex-partner

You can not always claim housing benefit for rent you pay to someone in your family, or to an ex-partner.

Renting from a family member who lives in the same home

If you are renting a home from a ‘close relative’ of you or your partner and they live in the same house, you won’t be able to get housing benefit.

A ‘close relative’ includes:

  • husband or wife
  • civil partner
  • partner
  • parent, step-parent or parent-in-law
  • child or step-child
  • son-in-law or daughter-in-law
  • brother or sister
  • half-brother or half-sister
  • brother-in-law or sister-in-law, or
  • partner of any of the above.

For example, if you are living with your parents and paying them some money towards household costs you will not be able to claim housing benefit.

Renting from a family member who lives in a separate home

If you live in a property owned by a ‘close relative’ and pay them rent, but they live in a separate home, you may be entitled to housing benefit.

To decide if you can get housing benefit, the council will want to check that you’re paying rent on a commercial basis. In other words, that you have a genuine tenancy, not just an informal arrangement between family. To decide this, the council might want to consider:

  • whether you have proof of your tenancy, such as a contract, tenancy agreement or evidence of rent payments
  • whether you paid a tenancy deposit to your relative and whether it is protected in an approved tenancy deposit scheme
  • whether your relative provided you with a gas safety certificate before you moved in
  • whether your relative would evict you if you can’t pay the rent.

Be prepared to answer these questions and provide paperwork if asked. Use our checklist to help you work out what documents to provide.

Renting from a former partner

You can’t get housing benefit if you pay rent to an ex-partner for a home you used to live in as a couple, or if you have a child with your ex and your child lives with you.

It does not matter if the ex-partner is not your most recent ex.

You can get housing benefit if you pay rent to an ex-partner for somewhere you never lived together as a couple, as long as you do not have a child with your ex who continues to live with you.

What if my application is turned down?

If there are any problems with your application, you have the right to challenge the decision. You can read more about this here or speak to an adviser at Shelter Cymru. Don’t delay in doing this – there are time limits for challenging a decision.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

This page was last updated on: October 4, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.