Liability for housing costs

Provision to include a housing costs element in respect of liability for housing costs is made under section 11 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013).

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

General conditions for entitlement to housing costs element

Regulation 25 of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out the general conditions to meet for a housing costs element to be included in an award - the payment condition (regulation 25(2)), the liability condition (regulation 25(3)). and the occupation condition (regulation 25(4)).

Payment condition

Paragraphs 2, 3, 7 and 8 of Schedule 1 to SI.No.376/2013

Set out further details of the meaning of payments in respect of accommodation that meet the payment condition - including rent payments, payments excluded as rent payments, service charge payments and payments excluded as service charge payments.

Liability condition

Regulation 25(3) and Schedule 2 of SI.No.376/2013

Provide that liability to make payments must be on a commercial basis or the claimant (or other joint claimant) is treated as having a liability to make payments as set out in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to SI.No.376/2013 and none of the conditions for being treated as not liable, as set out in Part 2 of Schedule 2, apply.

Occupation condition

Paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 to SI.No.376/2013

Sets out the general rule for meeting the occupation condition by ‘normally occupying’ accommodation.

Paragraphs 3 to 8 of Schedule 3 to SI.No.376/2013

Set out when a claimant can be treated as occupying accommodation in circumstances including when they are living in other accommodation during essential repairs, due to fear of violence or while awaiting adaptations.

Paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to SI.No.376/2013

Sets out rules for when temporary absence leads to a claimant being treated as no longer normally occupying their home.

In Northern Ireland, the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 together with SR.No.216/2016 make provisions that are largely equivalent to that in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for decision making

Chapter F2

Includes guidance on the housing costs element and the general conditions for entitlement.

DWP guidance from

Contrived tenancies

​Sets out guidance to DWP staff on contrived tenancies, commerciality and circumstances when discretion can be exercised in making decisions.

DWP guidance from

Joint tenancies

​Sets out guidance to DWP staff on joint tenancies, liability when joint tenant leaves, and permitted occupiers.

DWP guidance from

Claimants who must pay housing costs without having a tenancy

​Sets out guidance to DWP staff on treating claimants with a use and occupation agreement as having liability for the rent.

DWP guidance from

Private rented sector

​Sets out guidance to DWP staff including on the private rented sector and liability issues such as commerciality and non-standard occupation.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

We’re not aware of any case law relating to this issue.