Housing Benefit for Landlords
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are a landlord or landlady or prospective landlord or landlady wishing to rent out property, you may have tenants entitled to help from their local council towards paying their rent.
Should a tenant make a claim for this help, called Housing Benefit, they will normally ask you for some simple information about the tenancy.
This explains how Housing Benefit is calculated, what information the tenant will be asked for and what information you will need to provide in order that an assessment of the level of Housing Benefit payable can be made.
What is Housing Benefit?
Housing Benefit gives help towards housing costs for people on a low income or those who receive Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance.
How is a claim made?
A claim is made by using the online service for claiming Housing Benefit .
A tenant does not need to tell you that they have claimed benefit. The Council can only discuss a benefit claim with a landlord if the tenant has given his or her permission for this to be done.
What tenancy information is needed?
In addition to proof of income, every applicant for Housing Benefit must provide the following details:-
- Date the tenancy started
- Date the tenant moved in
- Rent Charged
- Number of rooms in the property
- Rooms occupied by the tenant
- The name and address of the landlord
- A tenancy agreement or a letter from the landlord which should show the date the tenancy began, the amount of rent charged and any services included in the rent (such as heating, meals etc)
How much housing benefit will be paid?
Almost all claims for Housing Benefit are referred to the Rent Officer for a decision on a reasonable market rent for the property.
Rent Officers are employed by the government to help the Council work out how much Housing Benefit a tenant can have.
If a rent is considered to be unreasonably high, then the amount of Housing Benefit paid could be restricted. Housing Benefit may also be restricted because a tenant is living in a property which is larger than needed.
For example, a couple with one child needs only two bedrooms, so their Housing Benefit may be restricted to the level for a two-bedroom house and not the three-bedroom house they actually occupy.
The following criteria are used when deciding whether a property is or is not overlarge.
- A married or unmarried couple
- A single person aged 16 or over
- Two children under 16 of the same sex
- Two children under 10
- A child under 16
- A non-resident overnight carer (see below)
Non-resident overnight carer
Where the person who is not resident provides the claimant or partner with overnight care on a regular basis and there is a spare bedroom for them to use, you may be entitled to an extra bedroom. If you feel that this applies in your case please write to this office with details why you need an overnight carer. Please provide any relevant medical evidence.
From 1 April 2013, one extra bedroom can be allowed where the claimant or partner are:
- an approved foster carer who have a child placed with them; or
- are between placements and have had a child placed with them within the last 52 weeks; or
- are newly approved foster carers who have not yet had a child placed with them, but only up to 52 weeks from the date of approval
You will need to provide proof of the above and also complete a foster carer form.
Parents of armed forces personnel
From 1 April 2013 an extra bedroom can be allowed for an adult son, daughter, step-son or step-daughter of the claimant or partner who are in the armed forces and are treated as continuing to live with them, when deployed on operations. Prior to their deployment they must have been a non-dependant and there must be an intention for them to return to live with their parents. If you feel that this applies in your case you will need to provide more information including details of the period of their deployment. A non-dependant deduction will not be applied for the period they are deployed on operations however, there may be a non-dependant deduction when they return to live with you.
If you have a child in your household who is severely disabled and is unable to share a bedroom, we may be able to allow an additional bedroom for this child, please contact the council for further advice.
Housing Benefit cannot be paid for that part of the rent which covers services such as water rates, fuel costs or meals.
The costs of these items are deducted from the rent payable before Housing Benefit is calculated.
- Actual rent charged - £70.00
- Water Rates - £1.00
- Fuel - £5.18
- Part-Board - £10.80
- Eligible rent for Housing Benefit £53.02
The remaining figure is called the Eligible Rent.
A person who receives Income Support could be entitled to their full eligible rent. A person not on Income Support but on a low income will receive only part of the eligible rent.
Housing Benefit is always paid on a four-week cycle. If a calendar monthly rent is charged, the appropriate weekly rent will be calculated and then paid on the usual four-week cycle.
- Rent Charged : £350 per calendar month
- Multiplied by 12 months : £4200 per year
- Divided by 365 days : £11.506 per day
- Multiplied by 7 days : £80.55 per week
So, if a tenant is entitled to full Housing Benefit they would expect to receive £322.20 every four weeks, which is 4 x £80.55 weekly rent.
How is Housing Benefit paid?
Housing Benefit is paid every four weeks, in most cases 4 weeks in arrears.
Housing Benefit is paid to the tenant unless a rent direct form is completed, in which case the benefit will be paid to the landlord. Payment can be made by either BACS directly into your bank account or by a cheque crossed "account payee".
If the Housing Benefit is paid to you as the landlord you will also receive a schedule showing which tenants' Housing Benefit are included in the cheque and how much benefit is in respect of each tenant.
How long is benefit paid for?
All benefit claims are reviewed at least once a year. Benefit will continue as long as there is entitlement and providing the claim review form is returned on time.
Housing Benefit is only paid while a tenant lives in the property. Entitlement to benefit ends as soon as a tenant leaves the property. This condition also applies if a tenant dies, as entitlement ends on date of death.
Entitlement may continue during a temporary absence from home.
If a tenant moves out or dies and you have been paid Housing Benefit beyond your tenant's change of address or death, then you will have been overpaid. You will have to repay this money.
There may be times when the Housing Benefit Office finds out a tenant has left before you do. Housing Benefit will still end on the date the tenant is known to have left - any further rent due is a matter for you to pursue with your tenant.
What can a landlord expect of this Council?
We will :-
- Pay Housing Benefit promptly, normally within 14 days of receiving all the information needed to process a claim
- Make payments four-weekly while a tenant is entitled to benefit
- Advise the landlord if the tenant has asked for payments to the landlord to stop
- Only discuss a tenant's benefit entitlement with the landlord if the tenant has given permission
- Notify a landlord promptly if there is an overpayment of benefit
What does the Council need from the landlord?
- Accurate information about the tenancy details including the start date, rent charged and any services provided
- Prompt information regarding tenants moving out
- Recognition by the landlord that the tenancy agreement is with the tenant. If there are difficulties with payment of rent, the landlord's first point of contact is the tenant
- Prompt repayment of overpaid Housing Benefit
- Liaison with the Benefits office prior to instigating any court/eviction proceedings
For further information please contact