Information for private landlords
Housing Benefit is intended to help people on low incomes. This income can be from any source and tenants who are working and receiving a low wage can still get some help towards their rent.
Normally tenants will not receive Housing Benefit if they:
- live with, and pay rent to a landlord who is a close relative
- used to live with the landlord as a family member, relative or friend, and now pays that person rent
- rent a former joint home from their ex-partner
- are responsible for a child of their landlord
- used to own the property which they now rent
Amounts of Housing Benefit
For tenants renting from private landlords we have to decide if the rent being charged is a fair one.
For claims made before April 2008 and which are still in payment this decision is made on a case by case basis by the Valuation Office Agency.
Claims made after April 2008 use the Local Housing Allowance scheme to work out Housing Benefit. Under these rules, the maximum amount of benefit is based on the size of the tenant's household, not the size of your property. For example if your tenant's household only needs two bedrooms, we will only pay the two room rate of Local Housing Allowance even if your property has three bedrooms.
Sometimes this figure will be less if they have a higher income.
Tenants aged under 35 who live alone are usually entitled to lowest rate of Local Housing Allowance.
Making a claim
It is your tenant's responsibility to apply for Housing Benefit.
We will ask your tenant to provide us with evidence of their income, capital and identity. We will also need to see proof of the rent they are being charged. Usually this is the tenancy agreement you have with your tenant.
If your tenant applies in the same week as their tenancy starts, we will normally pay benefit from the start of the tenancy unless we have paid at a previous address. Otherwise we will pay benefit from the Monday after the date the tenant first contacts us.
Payments of benefit
Payments are usually made every four weeks, in arrears.
Normally Local Housing Allowance is paid to the tenant. In situations where a tenant is either unable or unlikely to look after their own affairs then we can consider making a payments direct to a landlord.
It is the tenant's responsibility to request that payments are made to their landlord. However you can ask for payments to be made yourself without your tenant's permission if they fall 8 weeks in arrears. We will consider requests for direct payments if arrears are under 8 weeks, but you will need to have grounds to believe that the situation will not improve.
Giving information to a landlord
We can only tell you certain things about your tenant's claim if they have given us permission to do so. We cannot give you information about their income or household circumstances.
If we pay your tenant's benefit to you directly we can talk to you about:
- the date benefit started and ended
- the weekly amount of benefit and how often we pay it
- any amounts we are taking direct from the benefit to get back an overpayment
- details of any payments made to you
Changes in circumstances
We need to know if your tenant's circumstances change because this may affect the amount of benefit they are receive. If you are aware of a change or if your tenant leaves your property let us know.
If your tenant moves to a new address their benefit will normally stop at the end of the week they left your property.
We also need to know if a tenant changes rooms in a house in multiple occupation or in board and lodging accommodation.
Overpayments of benefit
If we find we have paid too much benefit, we can ask you or your tenant to pay it back. We will only ask a landlord to pay back an overpayment if the benefit was paid direct to them.
If you do not repay overpayments when we ask you to, we can take the money out of benefit we are going to pay you for other tenants.
If you think your tenant has made a false claim for benefit, please tell us straight away. We would not normally expect you to pay back the overpayment.
Appealing against a Housing Benefit decision
As a landlord, you have fewer appeal rights than a tenant. A landlord can only appeal if we:
- refuse to pay benefit direct to them
- decide they should repay an overpayment
It is your tenant's responsibility to appeal against the amounts and dates of benefit payments.