Housing benefit plus has been available since January 1st and thus significantly more money for everyone who cannot afford to pay their rent on their own. But the payment is delayed. What that means for those affected and how you can still get the money you are entitled to.

With the housing benefit plus, the higher heating costs are to be taken into account. There are new heating and air conditioning flat rates. In addition, the income limits are raised significantly. The aim of the new law is for households to have to spend an average of a maximum of 40 percent of their income on housing costs.

Experts assume that the amount of housing benefit paid out will double on average and that the number of those entitled to claim will triple compared to the old housing benefit. Pensioners and families in particular will benefit. So far, households with low incomes have received the subsidy, but from 2023 the housing benefit is likely to flow more and more to the lower middle class.

The entitlement and the amount of housing benefit depend on three factors:

Housing benefit is available for

In addition to the applicant, household members that are taken into account include spouses, life partners, children, parents or siblings. Recipients of social benefits who already cover housing costs have no additional entitlement to housing benefit plus. This applies, for example, to recipients of unemployment benefit II, basic security in old age and reduced earning capacity or social assistance. Trainees who live alone and are entitled to training grants are also not entitled to housing benefit.

With this simple Excel table you have the perfect overview of your finances.

The amounts for housing benefit are not fixed. It is calculated individually for each applicant. On average, the housing benefit should increase from 180 euros a month to 370 euros, which is 2480 euros more a year.

Surf tip: Calculate housing benefit entitlement here (Calculator from the city of Berlin, also works for other federal states)

Anyone who is entitled to housing benefit should definitely submit the application in January. The housing allowance is paid retroactively to the 1st of the month in which the application is submitted. The application for housing benefit is valid from the month of receipt. However, many cities and districts already offer online applications. You can usually find the link on the website of your home district.

Households that have already received housing benefit for 2023 do not have to do anything, according to the city of Munich. The office recalculates the salary and automatically issues a new notification. Here, too, the higher housing benefit is paid at the beginning of the year.

The housing benefit is paid out from the month of the application, possibly retrospectively, and then always at the end of the month. The processing of applications currently takes several months due to the high volume of applications. Many cities have hired extra staff to deal with the flood. Nevertheless, applicants should expect long waiting times.

If you cannot afford your rent without a housing allowance, you should contact the responsible authority personally. At the request of FOCUS online, the Munich social department advises: “Those affected can describe the situation via our service telephone or in writing; if there was proven hardship, we would process the application immediately.” However, if the subsidy alone is not enough, those affected should contact the Office for the Prevention of Homelessness as early as possible. Housing benefit is not always the solution when there is a risk of homelessness.

Caritas Munich has a tip for cases of particular hardship: “The housing benefit offices can issue so-called provisional permits in the first half of 2023 so that the processing time does not take too long.” However, she also advises: “If someone notices that the income is no longer sufficient, it is advisable to seek advice from a counseling center at an early stage in order to clarify whether there are any further support options.”

In some communities, the rental agreement is sufficient, others want a rental certificate from the landlord. This means that they may already know about the application. If you cannot pay the full rent, Caritas Munich recommends speaking to the landlord early on and asking for their understanding. “If possible, however, savings should be made on other expenses in order to be able to pay the rent,” emphasizes a spokeswoman.

You always have to apply for housing benefit. The application form is usually available from the responsible department in your city or district. Many authorities now offer online applications. Then you will find the right link on the website of your city or district. In Bavaria you can also check here whether you can submit an online application.

All required evidence must be attached to the application. This evidence includes, among other things, certificates of annual income, pension, rent or property encumbrances. Charges include certain expenses for principal and interest, and for maintenance or administrative costs. The evidence can also be submitted later.