Receiving housing benefit payments as a landlord
Direct payment of Housing Benefit to you
We automatically pay benefit direct to your tenant unless circumstances require us to pay direct to the landlord.
If your tenant gets eight weeks in arrears with their rent, you can ask us to pay future Housing Benefit direct to you without their consent. We need your request in writing, stating the arrears position.
We will pay you what we would have paid to the tenant. In many cases this will not be the full rent charged. You will have to collect the difference from your tenant.
If you have more than one tenant on direct payment, we will pay the total benefit to you in a direct transfer (BACS) payment. We will send you a list informing you whose benefit is included in each payment and how long it covers.
You will be asked to repay any benefit you get for periods after the tenant leaves.
We will ask you to sign a consent form agreeing to accept direct payments of Housing Benefit. The form includes a declaration stating your responsibilities as a landlord and agreeing to repay where appropriate any overpaid benefit in respect of your tenant. You can still appeal against any decision we make asking you to repay overpaid Housing Benefit.
We must make payment direct to you if:
- An amount of income support is being paid direct to you to meet the rent arrears of the tenant or their partner
- You show that the tenant is more than eight weeks in arrears with their rent
We may make direct payment if:
Paying Housing Benefit direct to a landlord may be considered if adequate evidence to support this being in the claimant’s best interest is provided. Wherever possible, this evidence should be in writing. Factors, which we consider, are:
- Is the claimant likely to have difficulty in paying their rent?
- Is it in the interest of the claimant to make payments direct to the landlord?
In most cases, it is in the long term interest of the claimant to manage their own affairs and make their own payments of rent. However, certain individuals may simple not be able to do this reliably as they may have, for example, addictions/medical conditions that prevent them from being able to manage their financial affairs.
If you feel that your tenant and yourself may benefit from having the payment paid straight to you then please download the Vulnerability Request Form, which includes the set conditions by which we may do this.
Sharing information with you
Sometimes, sharing information with you helps us to deal with your tenant’s claim quickly. It may also reduce the risk of your tenant falling behind with their rent because their claim is delayed. We can share information with you only if your tenant has agreed that their Housing Benefit can be paid directly to you.
Under the Data Protection Act we need the tenant’s permission to share information.
The information we can share with you is:
- Whether or not your tenant has claimed Housing Benefit and, if so, whether we have made a decision on their claim or not
- Whether we need more information to make a decision on your tenant’s claim, and if so what information this is
We may need to check with you other information about your tenant’s claim, such as the date their tenancy started, before we can make a decision on their claim. If so, we will ask you even if your tenant has not given us permission to discuss their claim with you.
We cannot give you information about:
- Your tenant’s personal or household circumstances
- Your tenant’s financial circumstances
For us to share information with you, your tenant needs to give us written permission by ticking a box on the claim form or giving us a permission letter.
If your tenants Housing Benefit is suspended or stopped then we will send you a letter to tell you.
Legal requirement – reporting changes in circumstances
It is a criminal offence for a person dishonestly or without reasonable excuse to fail to notify a change of circumstances that the law requires them to report. This applies to landlords and agents as well as tenants.
If you receive direct payment of Housing Benefit for a tenant, you will have a duty to report to us any changes in your tenant’s circumstances that you become aware of which could affect their Housing Benefit.
You are not expected to intrude on your tenant’s privacy. But you are expected to report a change that you could reasonably know about.
- Any change in the tenant’s address (including changing rooms in a house)
- People joining or leaving the tenant’s household
- Any change in rent charged or services provided
- Any obvious change in the tenant’s income that you could reasonably be expected to be aware of
If you fail to tell us about a change in your tenants circumstances that you should be aware of then you could be prosecuted for a criminal offence.