Local Housing Allowance - Tenants who are likely to have difficulty paying their rent
With Local Housing Allowance, benefit is usually paid to the tenant. Tenants cannot choose to have their benefit paid to their landlord. But in some circumstances we can decide to pay benefit to the landlord directly.
When may a local authority make payments to the landlord?
The Local Authority must usually pay the benefit to the landlord if the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.
Payment may also be made direct to the landlord where we decide that the tenant is vulnerable.
By vulnerable we mean someone who may have difficulty managing their money. We do not mean someone who does not want to pay their rent. There are many reasons why someone cannot manage their money. A vulnerable tenant might be someone who:
- has some of their Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance paid direct to the gas electricity or water company by the Department of Work and Pensions.
- is getting help from Supporting People
- is getting help from a homeless charity
- has learning difficulties or an inability to speak English
- has an illness that stops them managing on a day to day basis
- is addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling
- has severe debt problems, county court judgments or is an undischarged bankrupt.
There may be other reasons why someone might have difficulties,ask us for more information. Details about how to get in touch with us are at the end of this leaflet.
In order to protect vulnerable tenants, we will use our discretion in deciding whether housing benefit should be paid to the landlord as opposed to the tenant.
Who can ask for the payments to be made to the landlord?
Tenants, landlords, tenants' families or persons acting on the tenants' behalf, may tell the Local Authority that they are having difficulty paying their rent, or are likely to. The Local Authority may also identify tenants who may have difficulty managing their money, for example, when carrying out home visits. And landlords can contact the Local Authority, especially if the tenant is getting into arrears with their rent.
Who decides if we may pay the landlord?
Senior Housing Benefit staff will decide if we may pay the landlord.
There may be times when Housing Benefit staff know someone has difficulty in managing their money and may take action based on this knowledge. We recommend that, if someone thinks a tenant may have difficulty managing their money, they encourage the tenant to contact us.
We must have evidence to show that they have difficulty managing their money and that it is in their interest that we pay the landlord directly. Evidence should usually be in writing. People who can provide evidence include:
- the tenant
- friends and family of the tenant
- the landlord
- welfare groups (including money advisers)
- Social Services
- probation officers
- Jobcentre Plus
- The Pension Service
- homeless charities/organisations
- Supporting People teams
- local/council rent deposit scheme administrators, homelessness or housing advice officers.
In most cases we will ask the tenant to attend a meeting to assist us in making our decision.
Making a decision
Once we have collected evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if direct payments to the landlord are appropriate. We will still pay benefit while we are making our decision.
We will write to the tenant and explain our decision. We will also write to the landlord.
Reconsiderations and Appeals
If the tenant or landlord disagrees with our decision they can ask us to look at the decision again, this is called a reconsideration. Or they can appeal against the decision, giving reasons why they think the decision is wrong.
If you want more information about reconsiderations and appeals, please see our leaflet, "What to do if you think the decision about your benefit is wrong" Details about how to get in touch with us are at the end of this leaflet.
Tenants can get help managing their money from Citizens Advice -Gosport CAB, Martin Snape House, Pavilion Way, Gosport PO12 1GE. Telephone 08444 77 22 32 www.gosportcab.org.uk
If you want more information about when we may consider direct payments to the landlord, or where we must pay the landlord:
- phone your Housing Benefit department on 02392 545325
- visit the Housing Benefit department at Town Hall High Street Gosport PO12 1EB
- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- visit www.gov.uk
Remember that this leaflet is a guide only. Please contact the Housing Benefit team for more advice.