Housing benefit information for landlords

Housing benefit is a means-tested benefit that helps towards the cost of rent for people who are on a low income. Housing benefit is paid by the local council.

As a landlord, you are important to us. We aim to work with you to ensure you receive payment of benefit promptly and that overpayments are minimised.

Sign up for a landlord account

Landlords can now register on our landlord portal to view Housing Benefit payment details online.

Who can claim?

Anyone who has to pay rent for their home can claim. It does not matter whether their landlord is the council, a housing association or a private individual or company, they can still claim.

Boarders, lodgers and people in hostels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation can also claim.

However, we do not normally pay housing benefit to a tenant who is living with a member of their immediate family and paying them rent.

How benefit is paid

The payment will normally be made to your tenant straight to their bank or building society account. Payment is not normally made to the landlord.

If your tenant is more than 8 weeks in arrears we can pay you without the tenant's agreement.

You must have proof of the arrears before we can pay you though.

We will pay you what we would have paid to the tenant. In some cases this will not be the full rent charged. You will have to collect the difference from your tenant.

If you have more than one tenant on direct payment, we will pay the total benefit into your bank account.  We will send you a list informing you whose benefit is included in each payment and the period it covers.

You may be asked to repay any benefit you get for periods after the tenant leaves.

Direct Payments to Landlords

Under the Local Housing Allowance scheme, when a tenant applies for Housing Benefit, payment may only be made direct to them unless it is considered that the claimant is incapable of managing their financial affairs, is unlikely to pay their rent or has accrued 8 weeks rent arrears.

We have devised a LHA direct payments safeguard procedure for tenants, landlords and third parties to use to minimise the risk of tenants falling into rent arrears and being put at risk of eviction and to reassure landlords that safeguards are also in place for them. This can be downloaded below.

Payments safeguard procedure document

This document also details the procedures that the Benefits Service will follow when making a decision of who Housing Benefit should be made to, how the affected parties will be notified of this decision and what procedures will be used when reviewing a decision.

It is very important that your contact details are kept up-to-date so that we can make you aware of any changes as soon as possible.

Any direct payment made to a landlord will be paid every 4 weeks in arrears. Payments made to your tenants will be paid every 2 weeks in arrears.

You can provide details of your bank account on the following form:

BACS Request Form

Overpayments of Housing Benefit

An overpayment of housing benefit occurs when your tenant's circumstances have changed and there is a delay in telling us. If they are entitled to less benefit as a result of the change they will need to repay the amount that they have been paid but are no longer entitled to.

If your tenant has an overpayment that they have to repay, we will usually recover the overpayment from their ongoing housing benefit payments.

If benefit is paid directly to you then we will tell you how much will be deducted from the benefit that we send to you on your payment schedules. Your tenant will have to make up these payments to you themselves. The amount taken from your tenant's benefit will vary according to their individual circumstances.

If you receive housing benefit directly in respect of your tenant, then you will both be notified of any overpayments that occur as they may be legally recoverable from either of you. In most cases, we will seek to recover from the tenant as the overpayment has arisen because his personal circumstances have changed. There are occasions where we consider the landlord to be liable for the overpayment. An example of this would be where we would seek to recover an overpayment from the landlord would be if a tenant has moved and we consider that it was reasonable for the landlord to know of the move.

If you don't repay an overpayment which we have demanded, we may recover the overpayment from future direct payments of benefit for other tenants. We are reluctant to recover payments in this way, but will not hesitate to do so if we feel that there is no alternative.

If we invoke these powers (Social Security Administration Act 1997 Section 16), it means that each tenant for whom Housing Benefit is being paid will have their direct payment reduced by the amount of the overpayments we are collecting. You must reduce each of these tenant's rent liability by the full value of the deduction, and you cannot recover the reduction by treating them as rent arrears.

A landlord can only ask for these decisions to be reconsidered:

  • whether or not to pay them direct;
  • whether any overpayment is recoverable from them.

If you think that we should recover an overpayment from your tenant instead of you, you can write to us within a month of our decision giving your reasons why and we will review our decision from whom to recover.

Sharing Information

Sometimes, sharing information with you helps us to deal with your tenant's claim quickly. It may also reduce the risk of your tenant falling behind with their rent because their claim is delayed. We can share information with you only if your tenant has agreed.

Under the Data Protection Act we need the tenant's permission to share information.

The information we can share with you, if we have permission, is:

  • whether or not your tenant has claimed housing benefit and, if so, whether we have made a decision on their claim or not; and
  • whether we need more information to make a decision on your tenant's claim, and if so what information this is.

We may need to check with you other information about your tenant's claim, such as the date their tenancy started, before we can make a decision on their claim. If so, we may ask you even if your tenant has not given us permission to discuss their claim with you.

We cannot give you information about:

  • your tenant's personal or household circumstances; or
  • your tenant's financial circumstances.

For us to share information with you, your tenant needs to give us written permission by ticking a box on the claim form or giving us a permission letter.

If your tenant's Housing Benefit is suspended or stopped and we are paying you directly then we will send you a letter to tell you.