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Housing Benefit information for landlords

We work with a number of social and private landlords across the borough to house tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit.

Rent that is owed to landlord under the terms of the tenancy is between the tenant and the landlord and we deal solely with the Housing Benefit entitlement for the period the tenant is living in the property.

Under most circumstances, details regarding a tenant’s claim are confidential and cannot be disclosed to a landlord unless written consent has been provided by the tenant.

To view letters issued to you, and payment schedules in relation to your tenants, please click here.

How are benefit payments made to a landlord?

Some residents have had their Housing Benefit paid to their landlord for a number of years as they may have been able to choose if the benefit is paid to them or directly to the landlord. The introduction of Local Housing Allowance changed this for private landlords.  Generally, anyone eligible for Housing Benefit that is subject to Local Housing Allowance, will have their Housing Benefit paid directly to them.  However, if they can show satisfactory reasons why it would be in their best interests for the landlord to be paid directly then this payment method can be arranged.

If a tenant has more than eight weeks rent arrears, and continues to live in the property, we are then obligated to pay the benefit directly to the landlord.  If your tenant falls into this category, please contact the benefit team on either benefits@copeland.gov.uk or call 01946 598300

If the benefit is paid directly to the landlord then we are permitted to share the following information:

  • the dates on which the benefit entitlement started and ended
  • the weekly amount of benefit entitlement
  • the amount of benefits paid and dates of those payments
  • when a claim decision has been made
  • when the entitlement ends
  • when a claim is suspended

Please note that the responsibility for supplying evidence of income and liability remains with the tenant.

Will housing benefit pay off rent arrears owed when a tenant leaves?

This decision is based on a tenant’s individual circumstances. Landlords are legally required to contact us as soon as they are aware that tenant has left their property, if the tenant is in receipt of Housing Benefit. The tenant’s current circumstances will then be assessed and a decision will be made around paying off any rent arrears.

Rent that is owed to landlord under the terms of the tenancy is between the tenant and the landlord and we deal solely with the Housing Benefit entitlement for the period the tenant is living in the property. Housing Benefit cannot be used to cover any unserved notice periods, the cost of lost keys or the disposal of personal belongings.

What if a landlord receives overpayments?

If a landlord receives a sum of Housing Benefit that is more than a tenant is entitled to, the landlord may be required to repay the overpayment. This applies where it is reasonable to expect the landlord to repay the overpayment, for example when a tenant has vacated the property and the landlord continues to receive the tenant’s Housing Benefit. Please note that Housing Benefit is not payable for any period after the tenant has vacated the property, even if the tenant has not given any notice.

When an overpayment occurs we will notify the landlord of the following:

  • which tenant the overpayment applies to
  • amount of the overpayment
  • period that the overpayment covers
  • reason for the overpayment

Landlords’ rights of appeal

Landlords have the right to appeal decisions made by the council relating to us refusing to pay Housing Benefit directly to the landlord, or seeking to recover any overpayments made directly to the landlord. Landlords do not have the right to appeal when payments are made directly to the tenant.

The appeal must be in writing, state the reasons for the appeal and be made within one calendar month of any decisions made by us.

All correspondence should be sent by email to benefits@copeland.gov.uk or by post to Benefits Service, Market Hall, Market Place, Whitehaven, CA28 7JG.