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Benefit information for landlords

We believe that landlords are important stakeholders in the service that we provide.

We aim to work with landlords and their agents to try to ensure that they receive prompt payment and to ensure that overpayments are minimised. In return we ask that landlords respect our obligation towards claimant confidentiality and Data Protection when they make enquiries about their tenants.

Local Housing Allowance

From April 7th 2008 there have been changes to how we pay Housing Benefit. This only affects new claims and existing claimants when they move or have a break in their claim.

What is the difference between Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance?

The levels of LHA are not specific to individual properties, as they are now for Housing Benefit. LHA is a standard amount that will be paid towards rent costs, based on the size and ages of the family, the size of dwelling appropriate to that family and the broad area in which they live.

LHA will generally be paid directly to the tenant, who is then responsible for paying the full rent to the landlord.

All new private tenant claims from April 7th 2008 will receive LHA. Any existing customers that are private tenants who move house, or have a break in their claim after April 2008 will change to LHA.

Direct payments

If your tenant is not in receipt of LHA we can pay their Housing Benefit direct to you provided that they agree or if they are more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent. The benefit claim form asks if they want payment to be made direct to a landlord or a landlord's agent and they can request that we do so. Otherwise they will have to make a specific request in writing.

If your tenant is in receipt of LHA we can only pay their LHA direct to you if they are more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent or they are vulnerable (See Local Housing Allowance: tenants who are likely to have difficulty paying their rent).

You should remember that your tenant could change an instruction to pay benefit direct to you at any time. If they do we will write and let you know.

Our Local Housing Allowance Safeguard Policy provides details of when we will consider paying directly to landlords and it can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Recovery of overpayments

When we pay Housing Benefit directly to a landlord or agent and the entitlement to benefit changes we may ask that they repay any money that has been overpaid. Regulations allow for overpayments to be recovered from the person who received the payments.

Each case is considered on its merits. If we decide that it is appropriate to recover the money from the landlord we will invoice him or her. The invoice will show the period in which the overpayment occurred, the name of the tenant and the amount to be recovered. We will always be happy to discuss repayment by instalment. The landlord also has a right of appeal against the recovery.

If a landlord fails to make repayment of overpaid Housing Benefit we can recover the amounts outstanding from future payments to the landlord in respect of any tenant. The worse case scenario could also mean that we would refuse to pay any future benefit to the landlord.

The landlord's duty to notify changes of circumstances

If you are receiving payment direct and you become aware of any change in your tenant's circumstances that might effect entitlement to benefit you have a duty, under Benefit Regulations, to tell us.

Such changes that you are expected to tell us of include:

This helps us to award the correct amount of benefit and could prevent or reduce any overpayment we might otherwise seek to recover from you.

To report a tenant moving out, or any other change in circumstance that you know of, please download the Form - Change of circumstances (Housing and Council Tax Benefit) below, complete the detail, sign and send it to us.

Swale Landlord Forum

Landlord Forum - details of next and future meetings.

Change of circumstances form

Download the form to fill in if you've had a change of circumstance which may effect your benefits (PDF 105kb).

Local Housing Allowance Safeguard Policy

View the Local Housing Allowance Safeguard Policy document.
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