This page provides you with information on how to stay well and where you can seek help and advice on housing issues.
Quality of housing and the stability of living arrangements can have a real impact on health.
What help can I get with housing?
If you are a UK resident or have been granted refugee status, you may be able to apply for social housing or help with your private rental costs. You local council can explain their processes for allocating social housing. They also have a duty to help you if you are homeless.
If you are renting privately but are living on a low income, you may be able to claim housing benefit to help pay for your rent.
You can find out how to make a claim for housing benefit with this online tool.
How do I go about asking for social housing that meets my health needs?
NAT has worked in partnership with Shelter to produce guidance for housing officers assessing housing and homelessness applications, so that they understand the impact that HIV has on housing needs. The guide particularly focuses on issues around treatment adherence and the fluctuating nature of HIV.
Social housing providers are not required to give medical priority to people living with HIV, but if they understand how your health is affected by inadequate housing, they may give you what is called ‘reasonable preference’ on the waiting list.
It may be helpful to take this guidance with you when going to your local authority or housing association, to explain why you may have special housing needs. You can download a copy of the guidance, Housing and HIV here.
Will I be affected by changes to housing benefit?
Some people living on a low income who pay rent are eligible for housing benefit. Those who are renting privately are paid the applicable rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This caps the amount of housing benefit you are eligible to recieve, regardless of the actual rental cost.
If you are aged under 35, you will only be paid the Shared Room Rate, which will only pay for a room in a shared house, rather than self-contained accommodation.
If you need help with housing contact THT Direct on 0845 1221 200 or the Shelter Advice Line on 0808 800 4444.
For information about other benefits, visit our section on benefits and financial issues.
What housing assistance is available to asylum seekers?
If you have come to the UK to claim asylum and your claim is still open (including if you have an appeal open), you can apply for support in the form of cash payments and housing.
If the Government provides you with housing, you will not be able to choose where this is. This means that you may have to move to another part of the UK from where you made your asylum claim (the UK Border Agency will arrange the move). There is dispersal healthcare guidance in place to ensure that your HIV treatment is not interrupted when you make this move.
My income is reduced but I have a mortgage. What help can I get?
There is some help available for people on low incomes who are not able to make their minimum mortgage repayments.
If you are on an income-related benefit such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you may be able to get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).
SMI only covers the interest you are required to pay on the mortgage and does not contribute to paying off the mortgage itself. SMI will not cover insurance payments or mortgage arrears.
SMI would normally be paid directly to your lender (bank).
If you are on JSA, you can get SMI for a maximum of 2 years. There is no time-limit for ESA.
To find out how to make a claim, contact THT Direct on 0845 1221 200 or visit your local citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). You can find out where your nearest CAB is here.
How can I support NAT’s work on housing or give my feedback?
NAT is always keen to get feedback from people living with HIV. It’s good for us to know if our information and resources are helpful or if there other things you want to know. Your experiences can also inform our policy work and assist us in campaigning for people living with HIV to be treated fairly, and with dignity and respect. To get in touch with us, please visit our feedback page and let us know your thoughts.
NAT’s vital work can only continue with the generous help of our supporters. There are many ways you can support us without costing you a penny, such as getting involved in Press Gang, becoming an HIV Activist or volunteering. You can also donate to NAT.