This guide is provided to assist private landlords in
understanding the rules relating to their tenants' claiming Housing
Benefit, and the landlord’s responsibilities where payments of
Housing Benefit are made direct to them.
What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit gives help towards housing
costs for people on a low income or receive Income Support,
Jobseeker’s Allowance (Income-based), Employment and Support
Allowance (Income related) or Guaranteed Pension Credit.
The person who makes the claim must be liable or must be the
partner of the person who is liable to make payments in respect of
the dwelling that they occupy as their home.
How is a claim for Housing Benefit made?
The person making a claim for Housing Benefit
needs to complete a Housing Benefit claim form.
The form can be requested by
contacting us on 0800 0830428; visiting the Benefit Office, or
applying online. Where the
person is also claiming Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance
they can complete the Housing Benefit form included in the claim
pack sent to them by the Jobcentre Plus Office dealing with their
Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance claim.
It is important that they make their claim for
Housing Benefit straight away as any delay could result in loss of
Where possible they should send the
information requested on the claim form to us with the form, but if
any of the information is unavailable at the time, they should send
their form to the Benefit Service straight away and state on the
form when the information will be provided.
To speed up the process of dealing with the
claim it would be very helpful if you could provide proof of rent
which confirms the information stated on the Housing Benefit claim
The Housing Benefit form confirms the
information that is required about the tenancy and rent.
What information is required about the tenancy?
The Tenancy Agreement may not provide all of
the information that we need and we may require you to provide
additional information as requested on the form.
It would help us to speed up the process of
dealing with the claim if you could ensure that the proof of rent
includes the following information:
- The landlord or agent's name and address (business
- The date that the tenancy agreement started
- The amount of rent you charge for the property
- What is included in the rent e.g. fuel, water, meals etc.
- How often the rent is due e.g. weekly, monthly, 4 weekly
How much Housing Benefit will be paid?
Housing Benefit may not cover the full rent
that you have agreed with your tenant. The maximum amount of
benefit is determined by the Local Housing Allowance rates
which are set annually and will allow you to work out their
entitlement to Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit will normally be paid from the
Monday after the claim form is received. However, if the claim form
is received in the same week as the tenancy started, we can pay
Housing Benefit from the Monday of that week if the rent is
expressed on a weekly basis.
Housing Benefit cannot normally be paid for a
period before the person moves into the property even where they
have a liability to pay you rent before they move in.
However, in certain circumstances, a claimant
can be treated as occupying a property for up to 4 weeks before
they moved in, for example, if the delay in moving is necessary to
adapt the new home to meet the disablement needs of the claimant or
a member of the family. They may need to contact us for advice if
they are unsure if they can get benefit before they move into the
Can my tenant ask for their Housing Benefit to be
Your tenant can ask for their Housing Benefit
claim to be backdated for up to either 3 or 6 months depending
on their age. Any request for backdating can only be
considered from the date they make their request in writing.
They must be able to show “Good Cause” as to why they did not apply
for benefit earlier and that good cause must apply throughout the
period they have requested backdated benefit for or until they put
their request for backdated benefit in writing.
They can either apply for backdated benefit on
the Housing Benefit claim form or they can submit a
seperate request in writing. Alternatively they can
complete an Application for Backdate Housing Benefit form.
How is Housing Benefit paid?
Since the introduction of Local Housing
Allowance, it is the government's intention that the vast majority
of Local Housing Allowance claims will be paid direct to the
There will be certain safeguards in place to
allow payment to go to the landlord in cases where the tenant is
unable to manage their own affairs or are unlikely to pay rent to
If you feel it may be necessary, then an
form for payment of LHA direct to
a landlord can be downloaded, completed and returned
to our offices accordingly.
You can also ask us to pay Housing Benefit
directly to yourself where your tenant has rent arrears of 8 weeks
or more. You will need to put your request in writing and advise us
exactly what period the rent arrears are in respect of and how much
the arrears are. We will then suspend further Housing Benefit
payments and write to your tenant and ask them for their
We will advise you and your tenant of our
decision once we have all the facts available to us.
How long is Housing Benefit paid for?
Housing Benefit, once awarded, will continue
uninterrupted unless there is a change in circumstances. If any
circumstances change which may affect a tenant’s entitlement to
Housing Benefit we must be advised of this straight away.
It will also be necessary for us to review and
check details of your tenant’s claim from time to time and we will
contact them at the appropriate time or arrange to visit them.
As part of our normal checking procedures we
may write to or visit all claimants in receipt of Housing Benefit
from time to time.
What information can be given to landlords
It is important that you understand that it is
the person who is claiming Housing Benefit who is responsible for
providing the information that we need to deal with their claim and
also for contacting us about their claim.
We are unable to discuss Housing
Benefit claims with you unless we have your tenant’s consent to do
so. They are required to sign the declaration on the claim
form if they wish us to discuss their claim with you.
However, if Housing Benefit is paid or will be
paid directly to you and you have signed the claim form to confirm
that you understand your responsibilities, we can give you certain
information about their claim without their consent.
The information we can give you in these
circumstances is as follows:
- Details relating to payments that have or will be sent to
- The period the payments are for
- Details about any overpayments that we ask you to repay
Where payments of Housing Benefit are made to you we will send you
a notification letter, which will advise you:
- When payments will start and how much Housing Benefit the
claimant is entitled to each week
- If their Housing Benefit entitlement changes or ends
- If we are deducting an amount from their on-going Housing
Benefit entitlement in order to recover an overpayment
Landlord responsibilities when receiving direct payments
Where you receive direct payments of Housing
Benefit you must let us know immediately if you are aware of any
changes in the circumstances of any of your tenants that may affect
their benefit entitlement.
For example you need to let us know if your
tenant moves out of the property even if they are still liable for
the rent at the property.
We expect you to make regular checks to
confirm that your tenant is still living at the property where you
are receiving Housing Benefit payments.
Housing Benefit is normally awarded up to the
Sunday following the date they moved out of the property if their
rent is expressed on a weekly basis.
Do I have to repay overpayments of Housing Benefit?
If you do not agree with our decision to ask
you to repay an overpayment you can ask us to look at our decision
again. Details will be provided on the overpayment notification
letter that we send to you. It is important that you write to us
within one calendar month of the date of the notification if you do
not agree with our decision.
Where we consider that the overpayment has
been caused by fraud and the landlord has not been involved in the
fraud we will normally ask the claimant to repay the overpayment,
which has resulted from the fraud.