Housing Benefit information for landlords

Housing

Alert

These pages aim to give general information to landlords whose tenants get housing benefit.

If we pay the benefit to your tenant

We can only give you information about your tenant’s Housing Benefit if they give us permission. They can do this in their Housing Benefit claim or they can write to us.

If they give us permission we can tell you:

  • whether we have made a decision on a claim, or  
  • when and how much a payment will be.

We cannot give you confidential information about their personal circumstances.

If we pay the benefit to you

We will send a decision notice when we start or stop paying you direct.

We are able to tell you:

  • the date benefit started / ended,
  • the weekly amount of benefit,
  • how often we pay,
  • how much is being deducted from payments to repay an overpayment
  • details of any payments made directly to you.

The information that is available to landlords can be obtained on-line by registering for our Benefits Connect self service.

If we pay the benefit to your agent

  • We expect to deal with your agent, not both of you
  • You must ask your agent for any information you need
  • We will give your agent the same information that we would give you if we paid you direct

Please go to our Housing Benefit page and click on ‘How we pay your housing benefit’ for a full explanation on this.

If we are paying Housing Benefit to a landlord and there is a shortfall between the amount of rent due and Housing Benefit, this is the responsibility of the tenant and up to the landlord to collect.

If your tenant is having difficulty paying the rent they may be able to apply for extra help in the way of a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Who should claim? Click to get info

Anyone can claim, but there are no circumstances in which a person is automatically entitled to Housing Benefit.

The main conditions that need to be satisfied are:

  • the tenant lives in the dwelling as their home, and
  • the tenant has to pay rent, and
  • the tenant's income or capital are not too high.

More information is available on the Housing Benefit page.

Who must pay Council Tax? Click to get info

An owner-occupier or tenant aged 18 or over living in the property is usually responsible for paying the Council Tax.

In certain circumstances, owners who do not live in the property must pay the Council Tax. The most common example of this is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) where generally the landlord or owner is responsible for paying the Council Tax.

A HMO is where:

  • a tenant or tenants rent a room in the property and share facilities, for example a bathroom or kitchen (or both); and
  • each has a separate tenancy agreement with only their name on it.

More information is available on what you need to know about Council Tax.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your Council tax you can apply for the Discretionary Council Tax Hardship Scheme.

If we pay Housing Benefit to you, you have a legal duty to tell us about changes that may affect the tenant's entitlement or how we pay you.

Use our online form to report a change in circumstances.

Examples of changes you should tell us about are:

  • if your tenant moves out,
  • if your tenant changes accommodation (including changing rooms or flats within the same building),
  • if there is a change in the rent you charge your tenant,
  • if somebody else moves in, and
  • if your own circumstances change (for example, you change your address or bank details), if we are making the payments directly into your bank account.

You are committing a criminal offence if, deliberately or without a reasonable excuse, you do not report a change of circumstances which is included in the regulations. We don't expect any landlord to interfere with their tenant's affairs, only to report changes they become aware of.

Decision notice

When we make a decision on a claim for Housing Benefit, we will tell everyone who our decision applies to. This is called a decision notice.

We send a decision notice when payments start or end, or when we have been told about a change of circumstances.

Each decision notice tells the tenant how much Housing Benefit they will get, when their benefit starts or changes, and how we assessed it. The letter also tells the tenant about their responsibility to report changes in their circumstances and what they can do if they are not happy with the assessment.

If we are going to make Housing Benefit payments direct to you, we will send you a separate decision notice.

Rent arrears and eviction proceedings

If your tenant has rent arrears and is waiting on a Housing Benefit claim please contact us before starting eviction proceedings.

We are aware that landlords can incur unwelcome costs when seeking possession of a property and we will do our best to make a prompt decision, providing we have all the information needed to assess the claim. If we are unable to make a final decision we may be able to make a payment on the account. 

Appeals

Only a person affected by a decision about Housing Benefit can appeal.

The claimant will always be a 'person affected'. A landlord can also be a 'person affected' in the following circumstances:

  • we have made a decision to make direct payments to you
  • we have made a decision not to make payments direct to you
  • when we plan to take back money we overpaid you.

More information about appeals is available on our Housing Benefit page.

Overpayments

When we pay Housing Benefit direct to a landlord and their tenant's entitlement to Housing Benefit changes we may ask the landlord to repay the money which has been overpaid.

Each case is decided on its own merits. If we decide that it is appropriate to recover the money form the landlord we will invoice them. The invoice will show the period in which the overpayment occurred, the name of the tenant and the amount of overpayment.

For more information please visit our Housing Benefit overpayments page.