Housing benefit: how to apply for it and who gets it
Created: 01/05/2023 10:17 am
By: Fabian Raddatz
Energy prices have risen.
Housing benefit is intended to help low-income households.
How to apply for it - and who gets it.
Berlin – In view of rising energy prices, the federal government has introduced housing benefits.
It aims to help low-income households bear the increased financial burden.
And as the consumer advice center writes, significantly more households can now receive it and also receive significantly higher amounts.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people in Germany could have received housing benefit long ago, but have not yet applied for it.
© Monika Skolimowska/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa
More than three times as many households - around two million - have been able to apply for the subsidy since January 2023.
In addition, the amount has more than doubled on average.
While the average housing benefit was around 177 euros per month, this value could now rise to 370 euros.
In the future, costs for heating and hot water will also be included in the calculation.
Housing benefit is a social benefit from the state - if it is not enough, you are entitled to citizen benefit
The housing allowance is to be seen as the first aid measure if your own income is no longer sufficient to cover your livelihood.
In addition, it should protect against the fact that other social benefits are required - such as citizen income.
If the housing benefit is not sufficient to pay for the living space, you are entitled to the citizen benefit with its various standard rates.
Changes in 2023: Consumers need to know this at the turn of the year
But how do you apply for it and above all: Who gets it?
First of all, it should be noted that both tenants and homeowners who live in the property themselves can receive housing benefit.
The following applies: the earlier you submit an application, the more money you will receive.
Housing allowance is granted at the earliest from the time of the application.
How to apply for housing benefit
You can apply for housing benefit from the housing benefit office in your municipality.
In some federal states this is already online.
However, handing in the application in person can result in the application being processed more quickly, since missing documents can be requested directly.
Documents required for the housing benefit application are:
the completed application for housing benefit: either as a subsidy (owners) or as a subsidy (tenants)
a copy of the rental agreement and rental receipt
the rental certificate (completed by the landlord)
the identity card or passport
the confirmation of registration
the certificate of earnings (completed by the employer)
as well as proof of income (training or employment contract, payslips).
Depending on your life situation, additional documents may be required.
Who can apply for housing benefit
Who is entitled to housing benefit?
The consumer center advises that you submit an application if any of the following examples apply to you.
receive unemployment benefit I or short-time work benefit.
go to work but don't earn enough.
Retirees or nursing home residents
who don't have enough money.
Students who are not entitled to
BAföG or who receive this as a full loan.
With housing benefit, all income of the people living in the household is calculated.
The amount of the rent and the price level for living space in the respective municipality are included.
Therefore, there is no fixed income threshold.
Consumers can find a housing allowance calculator at the responsible federal ministry, which can be used to estimate the amount.
Who is not entitled to housing benefit
People whose income is high enough to cover the housing costs do not receive housing benefit.
Even if the assets are too high – the asset exemption limit is usually EUR 60,000 for single people.
For each additional household member then 30,000 euros more.
Furthermore, you will not receive housing benefit if you are already receiving other social benefits, such as citizen benefit.
However, benefits such as basic security in old age and in the event of reduced earning capacity, basic benefits under the Asylum Seekers Act or educational support (student student loans, student loans or vocational training subsidies) can mean that you are not entitled to housing benefit.
This is because the cost of accommodation is already included in these services.
There is no additional entitlement to housing benefit.
How long housing benefit is granted - and what provisional housing benefit applications are
In most cases, housing benefit is granted for a period of twelve months.
In a few cases, however, the period may be shorter or longer.
As the consumer advice center writes, it should even be possible to extend the entitlement to housing benefit to 24 months due to the current energy price crisis.
Since the number of applications has increased significantly, preliminary housing benefit applications have also been issued since January 2023.
First money is paid out, later the decision should be checked again.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, an application, a rental agreement and a monthly salary statement must be submitted for approval.
By the way: Anyone who is already receiving housing benefit does not have to submit a new application.
Whether the housing benefit will be increased will be checked one way or the other.
The consumer advice center advises: "But at the end of the approval period, make sure that you submit the application for further approval in good time".