Housing Benefit information for landlords
When Housing Benefit starts
We 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 Housing Benefit ends
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 contact us.
While a tenant is staying in the same property, we’ll 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
- your tenant changes accommodation (including changing rooms or flats within the same building)
- there's a change in the rent you charge them
- somebody else moves in
- your own circumstances change (for example, you change your address or bank details, if we are making the payments directly into your bank account)
- something changes that you might reasonably be expected to know could affect the tenant’s Housing Benefit.
You’re 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 do not expect any landlord to interfere with their tenant's affairs, only to report changes they become aware of.
Paying Housing Benefit
We normally pay Housing Benefit by bank transfer to the claimant, but we may pay you in certain circumstances.
Please refer to the Dorset Authorities Safeguards for tenants and landlords 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’ll pay you every 4 weeks in arrears.
When we pay Housing Benefit direct to a landlord and the tenant's entitlement to Housing Benefit changes, it could result in an overpayment.
If your tenant has been overpaid Housing Benefit and it’s decided they must repay this, we may make 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, and 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’d prefer not to recover overpayment debts in this way but occasionally we have no alternative.
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.
Disagreeing with a decision
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've decided to make direct payments to you
- we've decided not to make payments direct to you
- when we plan to take back the money we overpaid you.
More information about appeals is available on the Housing Benefit disputes and appeals page.
What to do if your tenant is in arrears
In most circumstances, we would only be able to pay you directly if the tenant is eight weeks in arrears. However, let us know after five weeks to avoid delays.
When your tenant is in arrears, it means that their payments are outstanding. As a landlord you may take whatever legal action you wish, as it’s your tenant.
You may wish to contact us to see if there are any outstanding payments due.
Information about tenants
We cannot give you any personal information about your tenant due to privacy laws. Where it’s relevant, we can let you know if we are waiting for any information from the tenant as this could affect their benefit payment.
View your account online
If we currently pay you Housing Benefit directly for your tenants, you can view a summary of their award (not their personal financial circumstances) and a breakdown of recently issued payments.
You can also see any Council Tax or Business Rates accounts in your name.
Login to your Bournemouth online account.
Login to your Christchurch online account.
Login to your Poole online account.
Please contact us for any help you need with Housing Benefit.