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 may decide to pay benefit to the landlord.
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 be made direct to the landlord where we decide that the tenant is:
- likely to have difficulty in managing their financial affairs.
- unlikely to pay their rent
We can also decide to pay benefit to the landlord if, during the current claim to benefit, we have had to pay the landlord because the tenant was eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.
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. Landlords can contact the local authority, especially if the tenant is getting into arrears with their rent.
Who may have difficulty paying their rent?
There are many reasons why someone may have difficulty paying their rent, the Benefits Service will consider these when deciding if we can pay the landlord direct.
Who decides if we may pay the landlord?
We 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 can also take recommendations from landlords, tenants' families or those acting on the tenants' behalf.
We must have evidence to show that the tenant may 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
- homelessness or housing advice officers.
We will work with the tenant 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.