Housing Benefit is paid directly to tenants with the understanding that they will make timely payments to their landlords. Through this article, we aim to explore the consequences of tenants not making rental payments on time despite receiving Housing Benefit. In addition to this, we will also discuss whether or not tenants are required to disclose before their landlords that they claim Housing Benefit as well as review situations in which Housing Benefit can be paid directly to landlords

What Happens If A Tenant Is Not Paying Housing Benefit To Their Landlord?

If a tenant is not making rental payments to their landlord from the Housing Benefit that they receive for the purpose, the landlord can place a complaint of rental arrears to their local council office or the Department for Work and Pension. If eight weeks have passed and no payments have been made to the landlord by their tenant despite receiving their Housing Benefit payment, the DWP will direct future payments to the landlord directly.

If you are a landlord who has rental arrears of more than eight weeks, you can visit the website of your local council authority and fill out a complaint form online. You will be required to share the following information in this complaint form:

  • Your name and personal details
  • Name and personal details of your tenant (or multiples names in case of a joint tenancy)
  • Complete address of the property being rented
  • The amount of arrears
  • The last date of rental payment received
  • Actions that were taken to recover the rent from the tenant
  • Details of any dispute between tenant and landlord

The outcome of this complaint may vary from situation to situation. While in dire cases where tenants are known to miss out on rental payments deliberately, future payments may be made directly to the landlord and the tenant loses their eligibility for Housing Benefit.

On the other hand, if a tenant has been recorded as being vulnerable or unable to manage their finances, they will not lose their eligibility for Housing Benefit but payments will be directed to the landlord by taking their bank account details.

Can A Tenant Claim Housing Benefit Without Telling Their Landlord?

Yes, a tenant can claim Housing Benefit without telling their landlord. The main reason for this is the fact that like all benefits, Housing Benefit remains confidential between the state and the claimant. Therefore, both the claim itself as well as the amount being received by a tenant are matters of information that only a claimant can choose to disclose before third parties.

Housing Benefit, especially in the case of new tenants is directly paid to the claimant on the basis of the Local Housing Allowance of their council. In addition to this, the eligible amount of Housing Benefit claimed by a tenant can be slightly lower than the actual rent that they pay to their landlord as it may include a certain portion of non-rental payments; such as utilities. 

In this manner, landlords are not responsible for their tenants’ benefits claims; neither can they be held accountable in case of claim fraud or overpaid benefits. 

Can Housing Benefit Be Paid Directly To The Landlord?

While under regular circumstances, the answer to this would be no, Housing Benefit cannot be paid directly to landlords; unless the tenant is faced with any of the following situations:

  • If a tenant is considered to be vulnerable and is unable to manage their payments independently
  • If the tenant has rent arrears of eight weeks or more
  • If the tenant is has a history of skipping rental payments
  • If the tenant is facing deductions from benefits such as Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance to pay for rent arrears

Conclusion:

If a tenant does not make rental payments to their landlord while they continue to receive Housing Benefit from the DWP, the landlord can place a complaint of rental arrears. If it has been eight weeks since the last rental payment was received from the tenant, a complaint by the landlord can result in future payments being sent to them directly or even loss of the benefit in times to come. However, there may be cases where the tenant is in a vulnerable position due to which they are unable to manage their finances on their own. This is when Housing Benefit will be paid directly to landlords to avoid missing out on future rental payments.

FAQs: What Happens If A Tenant Is Not Paying Housing Benefit To Their Landlord?

Can Housing Benefit be paid directly to the landlord?

Housing Benefit can be paid directly to the landlord if there are rental arrears of more than eight weeks or the tenant is unable to manage their finances on their own.

Can I claim Housing Benefit if I rent a room from a friend?

Yes, you can claim Housing Benefit if you rent a room from a friend or a distant family member if you don’t live in the same house. You can also claim Housing Benefit if you rent a room from a close family member. 

Why do landlords not accept Housing Benefit?

Some landlords may not accept tenants who are claiming benefits such as Housing Benefit. The reasons cited by some of them include delayed rental payments, high rent arrears and procedural delays for payments.

Does Universal Credit include Housing Benefit?

Universal Credit includes a housing element which is essentially the same as Housing Benefit. Universal Credit is now replacing six legacy benefits including Housing Benefit. If there is no change to your circumstances, you may be able to claim the same amount of Housing Benefit when you are transferred to Universal Credit.

What can I do if a tenant refuses to pay rent?

If a tenant refuses to pay, you can start with talking to them, then to the guarantor, send them a notice and if nothing else works you might have to end up going to court to claim rent arrears.

References:

Benefits – What can I do if the tenant owes rent? – Moray Council

Benefits-and-housing/benefits/housing-benefit

Housing_Benefit_direct_payment_to_landlord_due_to_arrears

Housing benefit for landlords | LBHF

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