Housing Benefit is a state benefit claimed by individuals who are on a low income to receive state support in managing their housing costs. Through this blog post, we will learn whether a tenant can claim Housing Benefit without telling their landlord. In addition to this, we will also explore those exceptional situations under which Housing Benefit can be paid directly to landlords. Since Housing Benefit is soon to be replaced with Universal Credit, we will also discuss whether Universal Credit payments are made directly to landlords or tenants and whether tenants can claim Universal Credit without telling their landlord or not.
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.
There are situations in which tenants have been known to request the authorities for direct payments of Housing Benefit to be made to their landlord; however, unless the desired criteria are met for such requests, they may not be entertained.
In situations where tenants have been found to have rent arrears of more than eight weeks, the authorities will contact the landlord themselves, share the below information with them and start making payments directly to the landlord:
- The weekly entitlement of the claimant for rental payments
- The duration of the benefit (start date till end date)
- When the entitlement is expected to change
Other than this and that too under the circumstances mentioned, no other information will be given to landlords regarding their tenants’ Housing Benefit claims.
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
If a tenant has been living in a landlord’s property for a certain number of years and their rent does not come under the Local Housing Allowance, they may be able to place a request to the authorities and have Housing Benefit paid directly to the landlord. However, this request can be revoked at any time at the discretion of the tenant.
Will Universal Credit Contact My Landlord?
Yes, Universal Credit can contact your landlord. While Universal Credit will not contact your landlord to inform them that their tenant has made a claim, however, they will contact them to ask for the bank details so that housing cost payments can directly be made to them.
Monthly payments that cover housing payments are made directly to landlords by Universal Credit while the remaining amount is paid to claimants. In very rare cases and should claimants fulfil specific criteria will housing costs for rental payments be sent directly to them instead of their landlord.
Will Universal Credit Make Housing Payments Directly To Tenants?
Yes, Universal Credit can make housing payments directly to tenants instead of their landlord in case the tenant:
- has not paid previously owed rent and currently has rent arrears
- is repaying previous rent arrears
- is repaying an overpayment
- currently has Social Fund or Discretionary Support debt
- is residing in a hostel, refuge or residential care
- shares the Universal Credit payment with another member of the household
The above discussion has made it quite clear that a tenant can claim Housing Benefit without telling their landlord as it is a confidential matter between them and the state. However, should a tenant fall behind on rental payments, the authorities can directly contact their landlord and start sending Housing Benefit payments to them.
FAQs: Can A Tenant Claim Housing Benefit Without Telling Their Landlord?
Does Universal Credit go straight to the landlord?
Yes, Universal Credit payments are made directly to the bank accounts of landlords of claimants. Therefore, even though tenants need not inform their landlord that they are on benefits, they would end up doing so when asking for personal information with regards to benefits payments.
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.
Do I have to inform my landlord if I claim Universal Credit?
No, you don’t have to inform your landlord if you are claiming Universal Credit. However, you might need to do so if you are asked to provide your landlord’s bank account details for rental payments through the housing element of Universal Credit.
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.