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.
Inform us of a Change in Circumstances
Our duties: limit to the information we can share with you
Due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 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 used to calculate Housing Benefit for people on a low income, who rent accommodation from a private landlord and are not in receipt of Universal Credit. The Chartered Institute of Housing provides guidance for landlords.
Why is Housing Benefit paid directly to the tenant?
Housing Benefit for private tenants 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
Housing Benefit is only paid to private landlords directly in special circumstances, as outlined in our Safeguard Policy (PDF, 223kb) for example, if a tenant has rent arrears of 8 weeks or more.
Other instances when Housing Benefit 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 Housing Benefit 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 vulnerable or has 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 Housing Benefit directly to you.
For more information, see Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords from the DWP.
If a tenant is paid more Housing Benefit than entitled to, 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 an overpayment from a landlord when all 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 one month from the date the decision was made.
You can only appeal about:
- 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.