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How to deal with the Labor Office and how to get a housing allowance

There were 215,000 people receiving housing benefit in November 2023 (source in Czech), which according to research is still only around a quarter of people (source in Czech) who are entitled to it given their income.

In the following lines you will find information from a social worker, from the internet, and from the experiences of INN members, what they have experienced themselves when claiming benefit, what has helped them or what hasn’t worked. It is also possible that we are wrong about something or that some practices have changed in the meantime. In that case, we’d be happy to hear from you. Also although foreigners are in a lot of cases eligible for housing benefit the most material on that in in Czech. But we can support each other with shared knowledge and shared practice. In case you do not speak Czech but successfully applied for housing benefit we would like to hear from you as well.

In general, in addition to housing benefit (Příspěvek na bydlení), housing benefit also includes the so-called housing benefit supplement (doplatek na bydlení) and emergency assistance (mimořádná okamžitá pomoc), but the framework is quite different from housing benefit. You have to be in material need, registered with the Labor Office or have no assets. In practice, they fall within the field of social work, so we will not discuss these benefits here and will focus only on housing benefit.

Housing benefit is a so-called non-insurable benefit, just like, for example, childbirth benefit when you have a baby. So it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your bank account or whether you have paid National Insurance or National Health Insurance, it is simply a benefit for anyone who meets certain criteria.

So let’s take a look at whether you can qualify for housing benefit and how to fill in the dreaded forms.

Housing benefit has 3 basic criteria:

  1. Have an income below a certain threshold. This can be easily determined by using the MLSA calculator (link in Czech) (in short, if 30-35% of your household’s average net income exceeds the “tabular” housing cost). Pension, DPP, unemployment benefit, maternity allowance, self-employed income also count towards net income.
  2. Have a residence in the Czech Republic. In concrete terms that means
  • if you are from an EU country: you must have temporary residence for more than 3 months
  • If you are from a non-EU country (called a foreigner for the authorities), you can also apply; we are quoting from the website of the labor office:

“A citizen of another EU Member State who is not a permanent resident or has been in the Czech Republic for less than one year must submit:

either a contract of employment or a certificate of receipt of unemployment benefits or sickness benefits

or proof of residence in the Czech Republic

A citizen from a so-called third country who is not a permanent resident must submit:

proof of residence in the Czech Republic, which must be longer than 365 days

proof of a specific type of residence (blue card, etc.).”

  1. Have a (sub)tenancy agreement. You can also apply as the owner of your flat/house, even if it is a co-operative flat. It is not necessary to be a permanent resident of the place.

ATTENTION! The allowance is given for the whole flat and *all* occupants must be listed on the tenancy agreement – which makes it impossible for a student to claim the allowance for their room, for example. Also WARNING, if you are a student under 26, your parents automatically have a child support obligation on you = you are assessed in a household with your parents (i.e. even if you live in another city with other people, for labor office you are figuratively living with your parents until your 26th birthday and your parents’ income counts towards the application. This is even if you are working as a student. And even if your parents don’t take a tax credit for you). If you can somehow prove to the labor office that you cannot be assessed in this way with your parents and you have received the Allowance, please let us know how in the INN.

>> this MIGHT only apply to CZECH CITIZENS!!!

If you meet all 3 criteria, let’s get to it. But don’t start with the application straight away, preparation is important:

  1. Decide who in your household will be the APPLICANT: the person will be communicating with the authorities, they will be receiving money from labor office. If someone in your household has a data box/internet banking, you can submit the application more easily online.
  2. CONSIDER IF YOU NEED THE CO-OPERATION OF THE OWNER: If you only have a contract for 1 person but you are claiming for maybe 3, you need to talk to the landlord to modify the contract/addendum to list the roommates (= the same people you are claiming together). Also, if the landlord pays the deposits for you, agree to provide bills (these are not a mandatory attachment when you apply, but you must provide them afterwards). – CLARIFY WHAT MEANS DEPOSIT HERE
  3. Be clear about the QUARTER for which you will be seeking documents: this is always the preceding CALENDAR quarter (not the actual one). So, for example, if you file in November (4th quarter), you are documenting for July+August+September (3rd quarter). You do not document October. It is also possible to claim housing benefit 3 months in arrears. So you say in November that you are claiming retrospectively (i.e. you write in the application that you are claiming from August) and you supply documents 6 months back (April to September)
  4. Prepare the whole household:

– (sub)tenancy agreement with all the names of the persons in the household on the agreement

– proof of past rent payments, if you have any (e.g. bank statement, landlord’s receipt). You can black out all other payments on the statement, for Benefit the account balance is not relevant and should not be requested from you (just as a bank statement is not required for e.g. unemployment benefit or sickness benefit)

– Proof of payment for gas, electricity, water, rubbish collection, purchase of firewood, maintenance of common areas (e.g. bank statement, bank statement, cut-off of a bank draft, invoice for firewood, advance payment). The REQUIREMENT to provide proof of billing for pre-paid services (for example, if you have just moved in and do not have a bill) is REMOVED. However, once the billing is done, you are required to send it to labor office so they can adjust your allowance.

– The income of all members of the household for the previous 3 calendar months (or 6 if you are claiming retrospectively), for example, in the form of a payslip. If you do not have income, fill in the Declaration of persons who do not have income relevant for entitlement to benefits (link in CZECH) (but we know of a case where the labor office clerk wanted a Proof of quarterly (link in CZECH) income with zeros filled in instead).

– If you were self-employed (OSVČ) in the calendar year, you will have to use your last tax return. WARNING: we’ve found that for self-employed people with a main job, the minimum net average monthly income of 20,100 CZK will ALWAYS count, even if you earn less. For a self-employed person with a secondary job, 10 050 CZK will always be counted). This is even if you only had a trade for part of the year. So, paradoxically, self-employed people with low incomes will not get the Contribution. You don’t need to prove your tax return, the labor office will verify this itself, but the labor office may require proof of pension and health insurance payments for verification. You do not need to go in person to your health insurance office or social security office to get this confirmation, it should be possible to get it from these offices through their online platforms. Detailed information for self-employed persons can be found e.g. under this czech link.

– What you don’t have to deal with: how much money you have in your account (the labor office may ask you for a bank statement to confirm that you are paying rent in a certain amount, but they are not entitled to find out how much money you have in your account, you can black out the data. It does not matter if you have money in your bank account, flat, car or savings, just as it does not matter for childbirth benefits). If you experience the opposite approach from the labor office, please let us know.

  1. Decide HOW to apply:

– physically to the labor office clerk (you will wait in line, but you can discuss with the clerk what you don’t know). Have a MINUTE of the meeting, what documents you handed in and what else the labor office requires from you. Without written proof that you handed something to the reference, they may ask you to do it again next time. – it might come in handy to go there with someone who speaks CZECH

– physically via the labor office mailroom (you will get a confirmation that they have accepted it, but you will no longer speak to the referee) – it might come in handy to go there with someone who speaks CZECH

– online: you must have an online identity (data card, internet banking). You can use the new online system of the MLSA Jenda (only in CZECH, as formerly mentioned) , which will guide you through what documents you need to submit (these are the documents from point 6.)

  1. on the website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs you will find the required documents and all of them are in Czech:

main form

proof of quarterly income (mandatory attachment)

proof of housing costs (mandatory annex)

– other attachments according to your situation = confirmation of studies, maintenance, pension, etc.



Don’t start with the form, but with the attachments.

Don’t be discouraged by the number of boxes, many of which you won’t fill in.

If you have submitted an application and the labor office has exceeded the statutory 30 day processing time, don’t wait for the labor office to get back to you, contact them yourself.

Call the labor office where you submitted your application to see how it looks, if there is anything to add. When applying online, call the labor office according to the address of the (sub)lease agreement

try the free call centre of the MLSA

the calling options might only work in CZECH

If you don’t know what to put in a box:

  • call the call center and ask
  • don’t fill in anything (the office may ask you to fill in something if it is missing)

More relevant for Czech people: If you have a permanent residence in, for example, a small town where you have a good experience, and your actual residence is in Prague, it is worth trying to apply in your place of residence. Your application will always be forwarded to your actual residence, but you will avoid the long queues for applications that are common in Prague 3, for example.

If you are physically submitting at the labor office, have the clerk issue a REPORT OF THE MEETING with a list of all the attachments supplied and a list of what documents they require you to supply. If it’s on paper, you can work with that in case of any confusion.


Is it enough to submit it just once?

Yes, you only have to apply once. However, you must then provide fresh documents (for the previous 3 months, i.e. January-February-March and July-August-September) for household income and expenses for rent, utilities,…

What laws apply to the Allowance?

On State Social Support, 117/1995 Coll. § 24-28:

on the minimum subsistence level, 110/2006 Coll., § 4.

If you manage to successfully apply for a housing allowance, we would be happy to share what worked for you/what to avoid at

It seems like a lot of stuff is only available in Czech. Who can help me?

There are people who do free interpretation and might accompany you to the offices. You can find them here.