What is Pre-Tenancy Determination?
Before you take on a tenancy with a private landlord and claim Housing Benefit, you can apply for a Pre-Tenancy Determination. A Pre-Tenancy Determination is a rental valuation by the independent Rent Officer Service. This valuation gives you the rent figure which may be used by the Benefits Service to work out how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to.
The Rent Officer will consider things such as the rent charged, what services are included in the rent, the number of rooms in the property, the size of your household, the length and terms of your tenancy and the general level of rents for property in the area. From this information the Rent Officer will decide how much the property is worth in the rental market and how much is generally paid in the area for a property of a suitable size for you and the members of your family who live with you.
If you are single and under 25 years of age the Rent Officer will look at the cost of a non self-contained room (where you have shared use of kitchen and toilet facilities) in the same area as the property for which you are seeking the Pre-Tenancy determination.
How do I apply?
Simply download this Pre Tenancy Determination Form (58.5kB) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) and return it to the address shown on the form. If you are unable to download or print this form Contact Our Office and we will send one out to you.
Housing Benefit will only normally meet in full rent where the property is fully occupied i.e. suitable for the size of your household, and the rent charged is around the general level for properties in the area where you have chosen to live. If your rent is above this level it is unlikely that you will get Housing Benefit to cover all of your rent. The Rent Officer will give you this figure. Remember that when your Housing Benefit is worked out it will take into account your income and other circumstances. The Pre-Tenancy Determination does not guarantee that you will get Housing Benefit or tell you the amount you will get.
What happens next?
The Benefits Service will ask the Rent Officer Service to value the property. The Rent Officer may need to visit the property and will arrange this with the landlord. The Rent Officer will then decide how much rent it would be reasonable to pay. The Rent Officer will send you, the landlord and the Benefits Service copies of the decision notice. You will normally get your decision notice within seven days. This decision will stand for twelve months from the date it was made.
If Rent Officer Service has previously made a decision on the property on the same tenancy terms within the last twelve months, this decision will stand and the Benefits Service will send you a copy of this decision.
What will the decision tell me?
The decision notice that the Rent Officer sends you will tell you the ‘Maximum Rent Figure’. The ‘Maximum Rent Figure’ is worked out by the Rent Office using two figures:
- The rent officer thinks is reasonable for the property or one of a suitable size for you and your family.
- The average rent based on properties of a suitable size in the area.
If you are single and under 25 years of age the decision notice will tell you the ‘Maximum Rent Figure’ and also the average figure for a non self-contained single room. This is known as the ‘single room rent’. In this case the maximum rent will be no more than the ‘single room rent’.
The Rent Officer’s decision will also give details of any services (such as laundry or cleaning) included in the rent and because Housing Benefit does not generally meet these services, this will reduce the ‘Maximum Rent Figure’ The Benefits Service can also reduce the ‘Maximum Rent Figure’ if it seems to be unreasonably high for your accommodation needs.
Will the maximum rent figure be the amount of Housing Benefit I get?
The Rent Officer’s decision sets the maximum amount of rent which will be used to work out your Housing Benefit. The Benefits Service will consider your personal circumstances, for example the amount of your income and the circumstances of those living with you, which may reduce the amount of your entitlement. Even if you qualify for Housing Benefit, you will have to pay the difference, so the Rent Officer’s Decision should help you decide whether you can afford the rent that is being asked.
If you decide to take the accommodation, you should claim Housing Benefit on or after the day you move in, as any delay may result in the loss of benefit. Any payment of Housing Benefit will depend on the date of the Housing Benefit claim and not the date you applied for your Pre-Tenancy Determination.
You may be able to get some additional help with your rent to prevent exceptional hardship. Read about Discretionary Housing Payments.