Benefits - Can payments be made direct to landlords/agents?
To encourage personal responsibility and financial inclusion, benefit is normally paid to the customer rather than the landlord when a claim is assessed according to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. The provision for customers to choose to have their benefit paid to the landlord has been removed for LHA cases only.
Although payment of benefit should be made to the customer in the majority of cases, there will be some tenants who cannot manage their own rent payments or others who choose not to use their benefit for the purpose it is intended. The LHA arrangements include safeguards to stop these tenants falling into unmanageable difficulties. Local authorities (LAs) have discretion to make payment to the landlord if:
- we consider that the tenant is likely to have difficulty managing their financial affairs. For example, if the tenant is known to have a learning disability or a drug/alcohol problem that would mean they are likely to have difficulty handling a budget
- it is improbable that the customer will pay their rent. For example, if we are aware that the tenant has consistently failed to pay the rent on past occasions without good reason
- a direct payment has previously been made under HB Reg 95 or HB (SPC) Reg 76 in respect of a current award of HB (more than eight weeks arrears or deductions from a DWP-administered income-related benefit in respect of arrears)
- we consider that it will assist the customer in securing or retaining a tenancy.
For Housing Benefit to be paid directly to landlords/agents a Payment to Landlord or Agent Authorisation Form must be filled in and signed by both the tenant and the landlords or agent. Landlords/agents must read all of the conditions set out on the form and be aware that overpaid benefit may be recovered from landlords/agents. The form with original signatures should be sent to us - please do not send us forms of photocopied signatures, as these will not be accepted. You may wish to keep a photocopy for your records, though.
Payment of a tenant’s Housing Benefit may be made direct to the landlord/agent:
- If the tenant does not fall under LHA rules and has agreed for payments to be made directly to the landlord/agent and we have received a signed Payment to Landlord or Agent Authorisation Form.
- Without the tenant’s consent, if the Council considers it is in the tenant’s best interest for payment to be make directly to the landlord/agent.
- Without the tenant’s consent if they have left the address and there are rent arrears outstanding for the period that Housing Benefit has been awarded
- Without your tenant’s consent if they are eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent
In line with Government regulations payments made direct to landlords/agents must be made 4 weeks in arrears.
The landlord/agent will receive a statement which will show the landlord/agent the amount of benefit and the name and address of the tenant. If the landlord/agent is receiving payments for a number of tenants the landlord/agent will receive a statement which lists them individually. One payment will be made for all the tenants on the statement. We recommended that this statement be kept for your records.
We will also send the landlord/agent a notification of Housing Benefit entitlement for each tenant whose Housing Benefit is being paid directly to the landlord/agent. This will show the date Housing Benefit entitlement started and the weekly amount. The tenant will get a similar but more detailed notification.
Customer Contact Team