Working with private and registered social landlords is an important part of the benefits service. See our policy on Housing Benefit: Working with Landlords

Universal Credit

From 15 November 2017 Universal Credit can be claimed within the postcodes PE7 and PE8. Universal Credit replaces a number of Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) benefits, including Housing Benefit. If your tenant starts to receive Universal Credit you should direct all landlord queries or requests for payments to the DWP.
 
Further information about Universal Credit and how it affects you as a landlord can be found in the DWP's guidance on Universal Credit and rented housing

Landlords and information

We regularly receive requests from landlords for information about their tenants’ housing benefit. Legally we can only share some benefit information with a landlord if the tenant signs an information sharing agreement. Tenants have the right to withdraw this consent at any time.

We will keep information about a landlord and any tenant confidential.

Payments direct to landlords

Housing benefit is usually paid directly to tenants, based on our current payment dates:

Housing Benefit Payment Dates 2017/18

We will pay directly to a landlord if:

  • the landlord is a Housing Association and the tenant requests direct payment

  • the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with the rent

  • the Job Centre/Department for Work and Pensions are paying part of the tenant’s rent to a landlord because of rent arrears

  • the landlord provides details of rent arrears owed following a tenant leaving their property and any outstanding housing benefit is still to be paid (only up to the level of rent arrears owing).

We may also consider payment directly to a private landlord under the Local Housing Allowance safeguard rules if the tenant:

  • is likely to have problems managing their finances

  • is unlikely to pay their rent

  • has failed to pay their rent in the past or

  • direct payments will help secure their tenancy.

See our guides on Local Housing Allowance Rates 2017-18, Landlord Local Housing Allowance Guide and Local Housing Allowance Vulnerability and Safeguard Policy for more help and information.

If a landlord thinks their tenant may fall under these rules they should tell us straight away and we will look into this further.

Before a landlord takes action against their tenants for rent arrears, please contact us to make sure the correct benefit is being paid.

Overpayments

If we are not told of a change in a tenant’s circumstances, we may be paying too much benefit. We will decide who caused the overpayment and look to recover it from that person – this may be the tenant, the landlord or both.

Changes in circumstances

The types of changes a landlord needs to tell us about are:

  • the rent going up or down

  • the tenant moving out, even if their tenancy has not ended

  • the tenant moving to a different room/flat in the property

  • a change in the number of people in the tenant's household

  • any other changes which the landlord thinks may affect the tenant's entitlement to housing benefit.

If you don’t tell us of a change you knew about, we can stop paying benefit to you and you may be prosecuted for accepting housing benefit to which you are not entitled.

If we are making payments to a landlord and the tenant has been overpaid, we will write to the landlord to let them know:

  • the reason for the overpayment

  • the amount of the overpayment

  • who the overpayment is for

  • whether the overpayment is recoverable

  • who is responsible for paying back the overpayment.

We will usually not recover overpayments:

  • caused by official error or

  • if the person who caused the overpayment could not reasonably have been expected to know they were being overpaid.

How is an overpayment paid back?

Where an overpayment is recoverable and the tenant is still entitled to housing benefit, we will make a deduction of £11.10 per week (£18.50 for fraudulent overpayments) from their ongoing benefit until the overpayment is paid back.

The landlord will have to arrange to collect the shortfall in benefit from the tenant.

If the tenant is no longer getting housing benefit, we will invoice the person responsible for repaying the overpayment.

Can a landlord dispute your decisions?

Yes. Landlords can dispute our decision but only where:

  • it relates to our decision not to make housing benefit payments directly to them or

  • they have to repay an overpayment paid to them due to a failure to inform us of a known change. The dispute must be made within one month of the date they were told about the overpayment decision.