Housing Benefit information for landlords
Coronavirus (COVID-19): change to service
On advice from the government regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are able to offer some extra assistance to those who most need it.
See further information about changes to services.
When will the Housing Benefit start?
We will normally pay Housing Benefit from the Monday after we receive the claim.
Your tenants should first check to see if they should be claiming Universal Credit. If a new tenant needs to apply for Housing Benefit they should apply within the same week as they move in. If an existing tenant needs to apply for Housing Benefit, they should apply as soon as they need help with their rent.
When will the Housing Benefit end?
When a tenant moves out, Housing Benefit normally ends on the day they last occupied the property, even if they still have a liability to pay rent to you.
If a tenant moves out before their period of notice is up, we may be able to pay up to four weeks extra Housing Benefit, but this depends on the tenant's circumstances. If your tenant moves out please let us know.
Whilst a tenant stays in the same property, we will continue to pay Housing Benefit until they stop qualifying for it.
Telling us about changes
If we pay Housing Benefit to you, you have a legal duty to tell us about changes that may affect the tenant's entitlement or how we pay you.
Examples of changes you should tell us about are:
- if your tenant moves out
- if your tenant changes accommodation (including changing rooms or flats within the same building)
- if there is a change in the rent you charge them
- if somebody else moves in, and
- if your own circumstances change (for example, you change your address or bank details), if we are making the payments directly into your bank account
- anything that you might reasonably be expected to know could affect the tenants Housing Benefit
You are committing a criminal offence if, deliberately or without a reasonable excuse, you do not report a change of circumstances which is included in the regulations. We don't expect any landlord to interfere with their tenant's affairs, only to report changes they become aware of.
Paying Housing Benefit
Normally we pay Housing Benefit by BACS to the claimant, but we may pay you in certain circumstances.
Please refer to the Dorset Authorities Safeguards for tenants and landlords document if your tenant:
- has a history of arrears
- is incurring rent arrears
- could be considered vulnerable
- is unable to manage their rent payments
New Housing Benefit claims are paid in arrears. If we make payments direct to you, the landlord, we will pay you every four weeks in arrears. If we will usually make payments to the tenant they will be paid every two weeks in arrears.
Contact your Councils Benefits Service directly, if you have any questions regarding paying Housing Benefit.
When we pay Housing Benefit direct to a landlord and their tenant's entitlement to Housing Benefit changes, it could result in an overpayment.
If your Tenant has been overpaid Housing Benefit and it is decided they must repay this we may take deductions from their Housing Benefit payments until this is repaid. This means, if you are paid directly, that your tenant will need to increase the top up they pay you to cover the difference between the Housing Benefit payments you receive and the rent they are liable to pay you.
We may ask the landlord to repay the money which has been overpaid.
Each case is decided on its own merits. If we decide that it is appropriate to recover the money from the landlord, we will invoice them.
The invoice will show:
- the period in which the overpayment occurred
- the name of the tenant and the amount of overpayment
If a landlord has difficulty repaying the money we may be able to negotiate repayment by instalments.
If a landlord fails to make repayments of overpaid Housing Benefit, we can recover outstanding payments from any future payments of Housing Benefit due to be paid to the landlord. We are reluctant to recover overpayments in this way but occasionally we are forced to do so. If we do invoke these powers it means that for each tenant in respect of whom Housing Benefit is being paid, the amount of their entitlement will be offset against the overpayment.
In these cases the landlord must reduce the tenant's rent liability by the full value of their Housing Benefit entitlement. The landlord is not entitled to seek to recover the monies from their tenant.
What if I disagree?
Only a person affected by a decision about Housing Benefit can appeal.
The claimant will always be a 'person affected'. A landlord can also be a 'person affected' in the following circumstances:
- we have made a decision to make direct payments to you
- we have made a decision not to make payments direct to you
- when we plan to take back money we overpaid you.
More information about appeals is available on the Housing Benefit disputes page.
View your account online
If you receive your tenants Housing Benefit directly you can register to view Housing Benefit payment details online.