The tenant’s partner leaves or dies
The tenant will need to notify the HB Office of this change in their circumstances as soon as possible, to avoid any potential overpayment or underpayment of HB.
Note this includes where the partner has gone into permanent residential care ie they are not expected to return within 52 weeks.
The first thing to consider is whether they do actually now count as single rather than a couple. They would still count as a couple if they did not intend to separate permanently and the separation was less than 52 weeks. However if one of them goes abroad the remaining member must claim as a couple after their partner has been abroad for 4 weeks or more - longer in some situations.
The next thing to consider is whether this change in their circumstances- ie that they are now a single claimant - would end any HB award. These are:
- Where it was the partner who has left or died who was the main HB claimant – in which case the HB award will end.
- And note that if If the remaining tenant is unable to claim benefits because of their immigration status (eg they have “No Recourse to Public Funds”) they will not be able to claim either HB or UC, apart from very limited circumstances. Click here for more information.
- Where even though the tenant is the HB claimant, taking into account their new circumstances and income and savings they are no longer entitled to HB.
- Where, due to the change, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit* (unless living in ‘specified or ‘temporary’ accommodation).
- Where the partner who has left or died was pension credit age and the tenant is working age, and they were getting HB under the pension credit age Regulations.
* Examples of having to claim UC: include:
- On becoming single any existing award of Tax Credits will be brought to an end, and if they need the financial help Tax Credits would have given they may now need to claim UC instead.
- Although the tenant was the main HB claimant, their partner who was the main claimant of Income-Related ESA – so they will lose that income and have to look at claiming UC instead.
Note that there may be other reasons why becoming single may trigger the need to claim UC – see our “Need2Claim UC? mapping tool.
If the person who left or died was an EEA national, and the remaining partner had been their spouse / civil partner / long term partner (and is not themselves a British citizen or an EEA national with a right to reside or a non-EEA national with a right to claim benefits) then they will need advice on whether they can claim UC (and other benefits) - and what to do if they can’t. Click here for more information.
Vernon, 33, and Jake, 37 were living as a couple with a joint IB- JSA claim. Vernon was the HB claimant and Jake the partner. They've not been getting on so finally Vernon has gone back to live with Mum. Jake cannot make a new claim for HB so has to claim UC; his JSA will end.
Bushra, 64, and Naz, 67, have been claiming IR-ESA and HB. Sadly Naz dies. As he wa the HB claimant Bushra would, pre-UC, be looking to make a new claim for HB. But as she is working age she has to claim UC instead. Her IR ESA will end but she should have the equivalent element included in her UC award.
If the tenant has been the main HB claimant
If the tenant was the main HB claimant then their HB award can continue – as long as they don’t fall into one of those situations where the HB would end. See this page.
The HB Office will re-assess their entitlement from the date their partner left or died.
Flo and Joe are in their 50s and claiming IB JSA. Joe is the HB claimant. Flo dies but Joe's HB claim continues and as nothing else has changed he doesn't need to claim UC.
If it was the partner who was the main HB claimant
If it was the tenant’s partner who was the main HB claimant, then the award of HB will end from the Monday after they left the property / died.
If the tenant falls into one of the groups (at the top of this page) able to make a new claim for HB, then as long as they make a new claim for HB within one calendar month of the separation or death, HB can be awarded from that date - click on the regulations: HB reg 83 (5) (c).
~ NOTE: The tenant may now be entitled to the Severe Disability Premium in an award of IS, IR-ESA or IB-JSA - if they act quickly they could avoid UC – click here
But if they leave it longer before making a new claim then they will need to request that this is backdated - unless they are of Pension Credit age when the claim should automatically be backdated 3 months. More on backdating here.
Special rules regarding under-occupancy/size criteria rules
The room allocation under the Bedroom Tax (social housing) or the LHA rules (private tenancies) stays the same for 52 weeks from the date of death of a ‘linked person’ (family member or non-dependant)
More on this page.
More on death on this page.