Normally local housing allowance is paid directly to the tenant, four weekly in arrears. Please see our housing benefit payments calendar for details of these payment dates.
Making payments of local housing allowance direct to a landlord
Normally local housing allowance is paid direct to tenants. We recognise that receiving payments of local housing allowance will not be appropriate for every tenant, and therefore in certain situations we will consider making payments to a landlord.
When will we consider paying local housing allowance directly to a landlord?
If a tenant is unable to pay their rent
A wide range of factors may affect a person's ability to manage their affairs and some of these are described below. These factors are not exclusive and other circumstances can be considered.
medical conditions - these include learning disabilities, mental illness and also those suffering from terminal illness.
people with physical disabilities or who may be housebound.
addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling.
illiteracy or an inability to speak English
people fleeing domestic violence/single homeless (care leavers)/people leaving prison/people who have previously been homeless.
severe debt problems/recent County Court Judgements/un discharged bankruptcy.
an inability to obtain a bank account.
Department for Work and Pensions making payments of income support or jobseekers allowance direct to utility companies and arrears are still outstanding.
the tenant is in receipt of Supporting People help or help from a homeless charity.
If a tenant is unlikely to pay their rent
We may also pay the landlord if it is improbable that the claimant will pay their rent because:
they have rent arrears and have consistently failed to pay
they have a history of arrears with previous landlords
If a tenant has rent arrears
Payment will be made direct to landlord if a tenant
has built up eight weeks or more of rent arrears or
is having deductions from their income support or jobseekers allowance to pay off rent arrears
We would encourage landlords to let us know at the earliest opportunity if a tenant is not paying their rent.
We require proof of the arrears in the form of a rent book or rent account showing the date the last payment was made, details of missed payments and the amount of arrears.
We will also request what action landlord is taking to recover arrears, so we can set a realistic review date.
In all instances we will have discretion to continue paying direct to landlord when the level of arrears drops to below eight weeks. The overriding issue will be one of protecting the claimant's tenancy.
If a landlord agrees to reduce a tenant's rent
Introduced in April 2011, this criteria allows direct payments to be made if:
the landlord agrees to reduce the tenant's rent level and;
the new rent level is similar to the local housing allowance rate, or at a rate which the tenant can afford, and
this action helps a tenant either remain in a property or obtain a new tenancy.
This can apply to an existing tenant, or to a new tenant. In these cases we will need to see evidence that rent was being charged at a higher rate for the property, and confirmation of the reduced level of rent.
How to request direct payments to a landlord
Any requests to start or to continue direct payments to the landlord should be made in writing and must be supported where possible by documentary evidence.
There is a request form in the download section at the right hand side of this page. We will also accept requests in writing or by e-mail, and there is a section of the benefit claim form for making requests for direct payments.
In addition to requests made by tenants we will also consider requests from a wide variety of external sources including the tenant's family, landlord, welfare and support groups, Social Services providing the third party has the written authorisation from the tenant.
In situations where arrears over 8 weeks exist we do not need authorisation from tenant.
Advice and support will be given to tenants on accessing a bank account, the importance of paying their rent to their landlord and the consequences if they do not. Tenants will also be signposted to other organisations that could offer support and advice in other areas appropriate to their needs or the needs of their families.
Decisions to make payments to landlords will be reviewed regularly to check if the tenant's circumstances have changed, and if it appropriate to start making payments to them again.
Payments will continue to be paid directly to the landlord until the review process is completed.