There are certain changes to a claimants’ circumstances that are essential to be declared to the DWP for benefits claim and being able to buy a house is one of them. Through this blog post, we will discuss the conditions under which someone who is claiming Universal Credit can purchase a home without affecting their benefits claim. Additionally, we will also explain the support you might get from the DWP if you are a UC claimant and aim to buy the property of your own, the process involved, the mode of payments, as well as the impact of your purchase on your benefits claim.
Can I Buy A House While On Universal Credit?
Yes, you can buy a house if you are claiming Universal Credit.
However, you must be on benefits for at least 39 weeks without a break in between; also you should not be in receipt of any of the below forms on incomes:
- Earnings from your job (whether you are employed or self-employed)
- A tax refund
- Statutory Adoption Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Statutory Shared Parental Pay
This is also applicable in case you intend to purchase a house through a joint ownership scheme. In this case, you will also be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost element for your monthly rental or mortgage payments.
Additionally, you can claim Universal Credit to make payments related to your home; such as:
- the cost of purchasing the property
- home insurance
- repairs and maintenance
This is irrespective of whether you choose to purchase your house on a cash basis, through mortgage payments or by taking a bank loan.
You may also qualify for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) if you are on Universal Credit and plan to buy a house. SMI is a loan that helps you make mortgage payments or repay loans regarding repairs and maintenance of your house and can cover mortgage payments of up to £200,000.
Can I Own A House And Claim Benefits?
Yes, you can claim benefits such as Income Support and Job Seekers Allowance if you own a house; however, you will no longer be eligible for Housing Benefit. The reason for this lies in the fact that to qualify for Housing Benefit, claimants need to be able to fulfil the following criteria:
- be at least 16 years old
- have a low income or be claiming other benefits
- have less than £16,000 in savings
If your house is mortgaged, you can still claim benefits and use the sum of payments received to pay your mortgage interest.
If you own a house or you live with a partner who owns their house, you can claim support to help you pay your mortgage interest. This is a repayable interest accrued loan.
Which Personal Circumstances Affect Your Housing Benefits Claim?
Your benefits claim will be affected by your personal circumstances which are categorised as follows:
- If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and you move to a new council district, you may be asked to transfer to Universal Credit.
- If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and move house within the same council area, you will be given a choice to continue staying on Housing Benefit or transferring to Universal Credit (if the latter is more beneficial for you).
- If you are currently on Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and are seeking a tenancy for the first time, you may be asked to claim Universal Credit.
If you are moving in with a partner who is on a Universal Credit claim, both of you may have to apply for a joint claim. Similarly, if a couple split up and they were previously on a joint claim, they will need to apply separately when one of them moves out.
How Much Can I Claim With Universal Credit?
The basic rate for Universal Credit (without top-ups for housing and childcare) can be classified as follows:
- If you are single and under 25, you can claim £257.33 a month
- If you are single and 25 or over, you can claim £324.84 a month
- If you are living with a partner and both of you are under 25, you can claim £403.93 a month
- If you are living with a partner and one or both of you are over 25, you can claim £509.91 a month
When Does Universal Credit Contact Claimants’ Landlord?
While Universal Credit will not contact your landlord to inform them that their tenant has made a claim, however, they will contact them to ask for the bank details so that housing cost payments can directly be made to them.
Monthly payments that cover housing payments are made directly to landlords by Universal Credit while the remaining amount is paid to claimants. In very rare cases and should claimants fulfil specific criteria will housing costs for rental payments be sent directly to them instead of their landlord.
The amount of Universal Credit that tenants receive each month may change; therefore your landlord may receive a different amount to cover your housing payments and you will be required to pay the remaining amount if the payment falls short of the due amount of rent.
In order to claim Universal Credit, tenants must be able to provide proof of their rental payments and service charges. Likewise, landlords are required to make sure that they have provided their tenants with a tenancy agreement and a letter confirming their housing costs; with a complete break-up of housing costs, rents and rates; since Universal Credit does not pay for rates.
Will Universal Credit Make Housing Payments Directly To Tenants?
Yes, Universal Credit can make housing payments directly to tenants instead of their landlord in case the tenant:
- has not paid previously owed rent and currently has rent arrears
- is repaying previous rent arrears
- is repaying an overpayment
- currently has Social Fund or Discretionary Support debt
- is residing in a hostel, refuge or residential care
- shares the Universal Credit payment with another member of the household
Will Universal Credit Pay For Two Homes?
Yes, Universal Credit will provide housing payments for two homes in case of the following conditions:
- The claimant has moved into another house due to fear of violence in their own home. Universal Credit can pay for both homes for up to 12 months as long as the claimant intends to move back to their original home.
- A new home is being adapted to the disability needs of a tenant. While it is being modified and the tenant continues living in the previous home, Universal Credit will pay for both homes for 1 month.
- A household has been split into two homes due to the large size of their family. This will be considered as a single home and Universal Credit will pay housing costs for both.
However, there may be certain unique situations in which Universal Credit may or not cover housing costs. For instance, if someone has moved out of their main residence while renovations are taking place, Universal Credit will not pay for both homes.
Similarly, if a tenant is currently in a hospital or a care home and cannot move into their house, Universal Credit will pay housing costs for up to one month.
Who Is Eligible For Universal Credit?
To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:
- aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
- unemployed or on low income
- between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
- experiencing high costs for childcare
- suffering from a disability or health condition
- caring for someone else
The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.
We can conclude from this discussion in this article that a UC claimant can not only purchase a house of their own but will also get support from the DWP in many areas. However, to qualify for this support, certain essential criteria need to be met; whether you intend to purchase a house through a joint ownership scheme or through sole ownership,
FAQs: Can I Buy A House While On Universal Credit?
Will I lose Universal Credit if I buy a house?
You may lose the housing element from your Universal Credit claim if your buy a house on a mortgage. However, purchasing a property does not impact your entire amount of benefits claim even if it gets reduced by a certain proportion.
Can you buy a house while on benefits?
Yes, you can buy a house while you are on benefits as your benefits claim is an indicator of regular payments received by you. However, this is not the only criteria that will determine your ability to get a bank loan or to convince a mortgage lender if you are not buying a house on a cash basis.
Will Universal Credit pay my private rent?
Yes, if you are eligible for Universal Credit and live in a privately rented house, your rent will be covered through the claim of the benefit. The rent can either be paid directly to your landlord or be sent to you as part of the housing element of your claim.
How much money can you have in the bank and still claim benefits in the UK?
If you are claiming benefits in the UK, you can have up to £10,000 in savings in your bank account and continue claiming benefits without facing any reduction in your claim.
Will my landlord know if I claim Universal Credit?
While the DWP will not inform your landlord that you are claiming Universal Credit, they may contact them for confirmation of housing costs or to obtain their bank details in case rental payments are to be made directly to them.