If your tenant is claiming Housing Benefit, please be aware of the following:-
We will only speak to a landlord about a tenant's claim for housing benefit if the tenant has given us written permission to do so. Even where we have been given permission to speak about the tenant's claim, we will not discuss or divulge details of the tenant's finances.
PAYMENT OF HOUSING BENEFIT
- If we are paying Housing Benefit direct to your tenant, we pay 2-weekly in arrears.
- If we are paying direct to you, we pay 4-weekly in arrears by BACS (but see below 'Local Housing Allowance').
- We pay by direct credit to a bank account.
- If a tenant's Housing Benefit is less than the amount of the rent, it is for the tenant to pay the difference.
The payments dates for the 4-weekly payments are as follows:
23 September 2013 21 October 2013 18 November 2013 16 December 2013
13 January 2014 10 February 2014 10 March 2014
LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE
A tenant's contractual rent is not the basis of the Housing Benefit calculation. Instead a LHA figure is used and is based on the number of bedrooms that the tenant's household needs, and the median rent for that size of property in the area. For further information, go to Local Housing Allowance
Most tenants whose Housing Benefit is being assessed under the LHA rules now have their benefit paid direct to them and NOT TO THEIR LANDLORD. Paying the Benefit direct to the tenant is a main principle of the Housing Benefit scheme, as it is the Government's aim that tenants be expected to deal with their own affairs. There can be exceptions to the principle of paying the tenant direct, but this is very rare and only applies where the tenant is vulnerable and there is a need to safeguard the tenant from losing the tenancy if the rent is not paid. This does not apply to Registered Social Landlords.
If Housing Benefit is paid directly to a tenant and it is demonstrated that he is in arrears by an amount equivalent to eight weeks or more, we will then usually pay the Housing Benefit direct to the landlord. However, we can decide not to do so when that would be in the overriding interest of the tenant or where we are not satisfied that the landlord is a "fit and proper person to be the recipient of a payment of rent allowance". A decision we make on who to pay where there are rent arrears may be appealed by the tenant and the landlord. Please contact our office for further advice on a particular case.
Some items are not eligible for Housing Benefit, for example, heating, lighting, meals and water rates.
CHANGES TO THE TENANT'S CIRCUMSTANCES
Tenants claiming Housing Benefit must tell the Council about changes that may affect their entitlement. If we pay too much benefit because of changes to circumstances we don't know about, we will expect the overpayment to be paid back to us.
Where we are paying a tenant's Housing Benefit direct to a landlord, we expect the landlord to tell us about changes to tenants' circumstances that may affect Housing Benefit entitlement where it is something that the landlord could be expected to know about (for example, if the tenant leaves). We will look to the landlord to repay any overpaid benefit in these circumstances.
OVERPAYMENT OF HOUSING BENEFIT
If a change results in an overpayment of Housing Benefit, but there is still an ongoing entitlement, we normally recover the overpayment by making a deduction from the ongoing Housing Benefit amount until we have recovered it all (regardless of whether we are paying the tenant or the landlord). This might mean that we are recovering an overpayment made during a previous tenancy.
Where a tenant is no longer entitled to Housing Benefit following an overpayment, we will issue an invoice for the amount of the overpayment. Where payment has been made to the landlord or agent, we may invoice the landlord/ agent if it is reasonable to do so.
RIGHT OF APPEAL
Landlords have limited rights of appeal, restricted to where we have made a decision to
- recover an overpayment from the landlord
- pay benefit direct to a landlord (or not to pay to a landlord).
To find advice about landlord and tenant matters (other than housing benefit) go to "Advice for private sector landlords and tenants" from our Housing Office