Housing benefit serves to secure adequate housing that is suitable for families. Housing benefit is an allowance for housing expenses borne by the Federal Government and the Federal State. It should help citizens on low incomes to pay for their living costs.
You can receive housing benefit as a tenant or owner of owner-occupied housing in the form of a rent allowance or home upkeep support.
The authority for housing benefit is the city council (Stadtverwaltung) or the regional council office (Landratsamt) depending on your place of residence.
Note: In specific large urban districts (Großen Kreisstadt) it might be possible that the regional council office (Landratsamt) is responsible for their inhabitants. The municipal offices, which do not have their own housing benefit office, will take the application and transmit it to the responsible authority.
Housing benefit exclusion
The recipients of the following social benefits do not have any entitlement to housing benefit, if accommodation costs have been taken into account when calculating the benefit.
- Unemployment benefit (“Arbeitslosengeld II”) and social benefit,
- Transitional benefit and industrial injury benefit each amounting to that of the unemployment benefit, even for advance payments and partial payments on transitional benefit or industrial injury benefit,
- Allowances for the costs of accommodation for trainees/apprentices and students that are not covered,
- Basic financial security in old age and if there is a reduction in earning capacity,
- Subsistence aid,
- Supplementary subsistence aid or other aid to secure your livelihood in a hospital, a home or an equivalent institution in accordance with the Federal Support Law or in accordance with a law that states that this is applicable,
- Benefits in special cases and basic benefits in accordance with the law governing the benefits for asylum seekers,
- Child and youth welfare service, if only recipients of these benefits live in the household.
The reasonable costs for accommodation are borne as part of these social benefits.
You are excluded from receiving housing benefit if an application is made for one of the above-mentioned social benefits. Even persons who have been taken into account when assessing the need of the recipient of social security or when determining the benefits of the social security recipient, cannot receive housing benefit, as their accommodation costs are also taken into account in their social benefits.
There is no exclusion if the social benefits are granted solely as a loan and in specific cases changing from receiving social benefits into housing benefits, if this means that the need for social benefit assistance can be eliminated.
Persons entitled to receive housing benefits
It depends on three factors whether you are entitled to claim housing benefit and if so how much:
- Number of household members to be taken into account
- Amount of total income
The total income is the sum of the annual income of the household members to be taken into account less specific tax free amounts and allowable deductions.
- Amount of rent or burden
In the case of rent allowance, the rent is subsidised, in the case of the home upkeep support the financial burden is subsidised. The costs have to be raised by the owner of the flat himself and not by a third party. Housing benefit will always only be paid for reasonable living costs. The rent or burden is therefore only entitled to subsidies up to a specific maximum amount.
Note: Whoever belongs to the group of those entitled, has a right to claim housing benefit
To receive general housing benefit, you have to make an application to the responsible authority or at the municipal offices of your place of residence in person or in writing. Applications for housing benefit have to be submitted on the official forms. Informally submitted applications specify the date of the application, a formal application has to be submitted subsequently.
Note: An application is also required to continue receiving housing benefit, which should be made two months before expiry of the current appropriation period. In this way, you can avoid the interruption of any ongoing payments of housing benefit.
The specified housing benefit can be increased or decreased or even cease completely in the current appropriation period, if the family’s income or the rent/burden changes considerably.
Please note: If you are a person entitled to receive housing benefit, then you have to inform the responsible housing benefit authorities of specific reductions in rent or burdens or increases in income. There is also a duty of notification, if there is a reduction in the number of the household members to be taken into account or if the income has increased, because the number of the household members to be taken into account has increased. This duty of notification also applies to household members, if the housing benefit is paid to them.
You have to attach the following supporting documents to the housing benefit application (e.g. statement of wage or salary, tenancy agreement).
Release noteThe German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Wirtschaftsministerium released it on 14.07.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.