Tenants must make a claim for Housing Benefit direct to the Council. If your tenant has claimed or applied for Universal Credit, they cannot claim Housing Benefit; as their housing costs are paid within their Universal Credit award.
People who change their address and are already receiving Housing Benefit will remain on Housing Benefit until they migrate to Universal Credit. Pensioners who are getting Pension Credit can claim through the Pension Service.
What evidence of rent is needed?
Always make sure that your tenant has a written tenancy agreement, including any services and how often the rent is due.
The tenancy agreement should be signed by you and your tenant(s). If you are the agent for the landlord the agreement should give the landlord’s full name and address. Your tenant can upload evidence here.
Can my tenant get extra help with their rent?
We cannot pay Housing Benefit above the Local Housing Allowance rates. However, your tenant can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
This is to help with any shortfall in rent. Discretionary Housing Payments are not awarded automatically, as their circumstances have to be considered.
If your tenant is receiving Universal Credit they can also apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Can I appeal against the amount of benefit my tenant is awarded?
No. Only the tenant can appeal against the amount of benefit they are awarded. The tenant is the person who must make the claim for benefit; any benefit entitlement is the right and property of the tenant. It is up to the tenant to say whether they are unhappy with the amount of benefit being paid. Any appeal against the amount of benefit must be made and signed by the tenant at every stage of the appeal.
Can I have benefit paid to me?
Payment is normally made to the tenant. Benefit can only be paid to the landlord in certain circumstances, such as where:
- the tenant is unable or unlikely to pay their rent.
- the tenant is vulnerable
- direct payment would help the tenant secure or retain the tenancy
If we do pay you directly, payments will be made direct to your bank or building society account and you will be sent a schedule. This will tell you whose benefit is being paid to you, how much it is and what period it covers. Payments will be made every four weeks in arrears and may be affected by a deduction where we are recovering amounts to reduce or clear any overpayments.
Are deposits paid by Housing Benefit?
Deposits are not usually covered by Housing Benefit. If you require a deposit from a tenant, they will need to provide this from their own funds. If they are unable to do this, they can apply to be considered for Discretionary Housing Benefits.
You must protect your tenants’ deposits, in either a custodial or insurance based scheme. Visit the Tenancy Deposit Protection website for information.
Will the council pay a month's notice if the tenant leaves without telling me?
We can only pay Housing Benefit if a tenant has a liability to pay rent and occupies the property as their home. A tenant, who has left without giving notice may still have a liability to pay rent but no longer occupies the property as their home, will not normally be entitled to benefit.
There are circumstances when we can pay benefit on a home that the tenant has left, only if they qualify for overlapping benefit.
What rights do I have as a landlord?
If you receive direct payments of Housing Benefit, you have the right to be told how much the weekly benefit is, how often it will be paid and the period covered. If we decide to stop paying you directly we must tell you that we have done this and the reasons why. You have the right to appeal against our decision to stop paying the rent direct. You have the right of appeal against overpaid Housing Benefit that is being recovered from you.
What about Council Tax?
If your tenant is liable to pay Council Tax on the property, they can apply for Council Tax Support on the same form as for Housing Benefit. If your tenant has claimed Universal Credit , they will need to make a separate claim for Council Tax Support.
If the property is classed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) you, as the landlord are liable for Council Tax on the whole property. More information about Council Tax Discounts and exemptions.