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Landlord advice

Landlord's duties

Legal requirements

Landlords must be registered.

If 3 or more non related people are to rent your property, you'll usually require a Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence.

Change of circumstances

It's your duty to report any changes in your tenant's circumstances that you might reasonably be expected to know about, that could affect their entitlement to Housing Benefit. Please complete and return a Change of Circumstances Form (Word, 68kb).

Our duties: limit to the information we can share with you

Due to the Data Protection Act we have a duty of confidentiality, however we will aim to provide you with the best information possible.

We can give landlords the following information:

  • confirmation that payment of Housing Benefit is to be made to the landlord, the timing and amount of the payment
  • details of a recoverable overpayment 

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Local Housing Allowance is a benefit for people on a low income who rent accommodation from a private landlord. The Chartered Institute of Housing provides guidance for landlords. 

Why is LHA paid directly to the tenant?

LHA is paid directly to a tenant so they have a choice about where they can live and take responsibility for paying their rent.

Direct payment to landlord

LHA is only paid to landlords directly in special circumstances, as outlined in our Safeguard Policy (PDF, 85kb) for example, if a tenant has rent arrears of 8 weeks or more.

Other instances when LHA might be paid direct to a landlord are when:

  • a tenant has moved out of your property without paying the final instalment of rent because they haven't yet received their housing benefit payment
  • a tenant was previously paying their rent using LHA directly to you because for example, they had been in 8 weeks of arrears - for convenience, this payment method may then continue
  • a tenant is particularly vulnerable or has genuine difficulty managing their financial affairs
  • it's improbable the tenant will pay their rent

In the instance of tenant's death:

If a tenant dies who has previously paid part or all of their rent using Housing Benefit, the landlord must inform the Benefits Service in writing. On receipt of this information we'll pay any outstanding LHA directly to you.

For more information, see Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords from the DWP.

Overpayment advice

An overpayment is when you're paid more Housing Benefit than you're entitled to. When this happens we'll seek to recover the amount overpaid.

We may recover overpayments of benefit from landlords when the overpayment was:

  • made because the landlord misrepresented themselves or failed to declare a material fact, for example a change in the tenant's circumstances that they were aware of
  • caused by an 'official error' but it's reasonable to expect the landlord would have known that a mistake was made

If neither of these points apply we can recover the overpayment from either the claimant or the landlord.

How we recover overpayments

We recover overpayment from landlords by reducing their next payment of housing benefit.

If a landlord has no other tenants receiving housing benefit, we'll send an invoice for the extra amount paid.

Non recoverable overpayments 

Some overpayments are classified as non-recoverable.

We cannot recover overpayment from a landlord when all of the following criteria are met:

  • the landlord notified the Benefits Service or the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in writing that they suspected there has been an overpayment
  • the overpayment didn't occur through a change of address
  • the overpayment wasn't caused fraudulently or dishonestly
  • the landlord didn't collude or act to cause the overpayment

Making an appeal

If you're unhappy with a decision regarding Housing Benefit you can appeal up to 1 month from the date the decision was made.

You can only appeal about the following:

  • whether or not payments can be made directly to you
  • whether or not an overpayment is recoverable
  • whether or not an overpayment should be recovered from you rather than the tenant

To find out more about how to appeal against a Housing Benefit decision, please visit our Make a Housing Benefit appeal page.