Who local housing allowance is paid to

Making payments direct to the tenant

Local Housing Allowance is usually paid directly to the tenant. In most cases the payment is made into the tenant's bank account, if they have one, or by cheque. 

The tenant will need to make arrangements to pay their rent to the landlord themselves. The easiest way to do this is to set up a direct debit or standing order from their account to their landlord.  

Visit the Money Advice Service website for information about getting a bank account if you do not already have one. 

Making payments direct to the landlord

Tenants cannot choose to have payments made to their landlords but in some cases we may decide it is in the tenant's best interests to pay the landlord direct. 

In most cases we must pay the landlord if the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.  Although if a tenant is withholding payment due to a dispute, the local authority may suspend payments or pay a third party until the dispute has been resolved.

Payments can be made to landlords when we decide that the tenant is:

  • Likely to have difficulty in managing their affairs
  • Unlikely to pay their rent.

We can also pay benefit directly to the landlord if we are satisfied that it will assist the claimant secure or retain a tenancy.

Groups who might have difficulty paying their rent

There are many reasons why someone may have difficulty paying their rent.  For instance:

  • Severe debt problems.
  • Recent County Court judgements.
  • Undischarged bankrupt.
  • Unable to open a bank or building society account.
  • Has deductions made from their Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance for recovery of utility bills.
  • Is getting help from Supporting People.
  • Is getting help from a homeless charity.
  • Has a learning difficulty.
  • Has an illness that stops them from managing on a day to day basis.
  • Cannot read or speak English.
  • Drugs, alcohol or gambling addiction.
  • Is fleeing domestic violence.
  • Is a care leaver.
  • Has just left prison.
  • Is in homeless accommodation.

Groups that can ask for payments to be made to the landlord

Tenants, landlords, tenants' families or persons acting on the tenant's behalf can tell us if the tenant is having difficulty or is likely to have difficulty in paying their rent.  We may also identify tenants who may have difficulty managing their money from our records.  Landlords can contact us if their tenants are getting into arrears with their rent.

Who decides if we can pay the landlord

We decide if direct payment to landlord is appropriate. There may be times when Housing Benefit staff will know someone has difficulty in managing their money and may take action based on this knowledge.

In other cases, where a request for direct payment has been received we will need evidence that it is in the tenants interest to pay the landlord direct.  Evidence will need to be in writing and can be provided by:

  • The tenant.
  • Friends and family of the tenant.
  • The landlord.
  • Welfare groups.
  • Social services.
  • Probation Officers.
  • Jobcentre Plus.
  • The Pension Service.
  • Homeless charities/organisations.
  • Supporting people teams.
  • Rent deposit scheme administrators.

We will work with the tenant when making our decision.  Once we have collected the evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if a direct payment to landlord is appropriate.  While we are making our decision benefit will continue to be paid to the tenant.