What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit is an additional income available to those who rent their home from a private or a social landlord and who are on a low income whether in or out of work.
Housing Benefit is means tested. We take into account things like the customer’s:
- income (and their partner’s income if they have one)
- if anyone else lives with them
- their personal circumstances
- whether they have any empty rooms
How can your tenant claim Housing Benefit?
Applications forms are available from the Customer First centre at the Town Hall, Scarborough, Jobcentre Plus at Bobbies Bank, Whitby or by telephoning 01723 232323.
If your tenant has access to this website they can apply online.
HB is normally paid from the Monday following the date an application form is received so your tenant should not delay in submitting their form.
Before Housing Benefit can be paid your tenant must provide a completed application form, proof of identity and National Insurance number and that of their partner if they have one, proof of their income and savings and proof of their rental liability.
What information can you provide?
Your tenant may ask you to provide proof of their rental liability. Their tenancy agreement or a completed landlord form should suffice but in some cases we may need to contact you to clarify certain aspects of their tenancy.
How much Housing Benefit can be paid?
Housing Benefit may not cover the full rent that you are charging your tenant. The maximum amount of benefits is determined by the Local Housing Allowance rates we then take into account your tenant’s household income, capital and circumstances.
How is Housing Benefit paid?
Housing Benefit is paid direct to the tenant every fortnight.
However there are 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 their rent.
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 or email the email@example.com and confirm exactly what period the rent arrears cover and how much the arrears are.
If you are already receiving payment of Housing Benefit and have changed your bank details please print and complete this BACS form and return the signed form to the council or you can scan and email a completed signed form to firstname.lastname@example.org”
What information can be given to landlords about claims?
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 to allow us discuss their claim with you.
However, if Housing Benefit is paid or will be paid directly to you, we can give you certain information.
The information we can give you in these circumstances is as follows:
- Details relating to payments that have or will be sent to you
- 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 their Housing Benefit payments.
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.
Universal Credit and Landlords
Universal Credit will include a housing cost element which will be paid direct to your tenant. This means your tenant will need to effectively manage their money and budget accordingly.
The Money Advice Service provides information and advice for landlords whose tenants receive Universal Credit.
Any concerns regarding your tenant not being able to pay their rent will need to be directed to the Department for Work and Pensions.