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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

I'm concerned that my tenant won't pay the rent

LHA was piloted in 18 Councils for two years prior to April 2008, and The Department for Work & Pensions has commissioned independent research that has found that there has not been a significant increase in the level of rent arrears as the result of the introduction of LHA.

There are safeguards in place to identify tenants who are unlikely to pay the rent, so that enquiries can be made before Housing Benefit payments are issued. Please remember that under the terms of the Data Protection Act, we are unable to release any details about a Housing Benefit claim to you (even to confirm whether or not a claim has been made) unless we have your tenant's written authority to do so.

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My tenant is already in arrears - what can I do?

If a Housing Benefit claim is in payment and:

  • There are eight weeks or more arrears; or
  • The tenant is having deductions made from their Income Support, Job Seeker's Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance by The Department for Work & Pensions

We can consider issuing future payments to the landlord. In the first instance you should confirm the situation in writing so that we can make further enquiries.

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Can my tenant choose to have their Housing Benefit payments sent to me?

No. Under the LHA scheme, there is no element of choice. However, we will endeavour to ensure that tenants are safeguarded when their circumstances mean that they are unlikely to pay the rent. Factors that may be considered include tenants who:

  • Have learning difficulties
  • Have medical or mental health conditions that impair the tenant's ability to manage their own financial affairs
  • Have difficulty with reading, writing or language
  • Have drug, alcohol or gambling addictions or dependencies
  • Are prison leavers or who are fleeing domestic violence
  • Have severe debt problems or who are undischarged bankrupts
  • Have previously claimed Housing Benefit and our records indicate that they have a history of rent arrears

This list in not exhaustive, and each case will be considered on its own merits.

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If I do receive payments, how often will I receive them?

Assuming that the Housing Benefit claim remains in payment, you will receive a payment every four weeks, in respect of the previous four-week period.

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Do I have any appeal rights?

Generally you do not have the right to appeal about your tenant's Housing Benefit award, including the LHA rate that has been used in the calculation. However, you can appeal about decisions regarding who should receive the Housing Benefit payments.

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If there is an overpayment, will I have to repay the money I have received?

This depends on the cause of the overpayment. If you receive Housing Benefit payments, you have a duty to notify the Council about any changes in the tenant's circumstances that you become aware of (for example, they vacate the accommodation).

You are only likely to be asked to repay an overpayment if we consider that you could reasonably have been expected to know about the change in circumstances that caused the overpayment, or if we consider that you contributed towards a fraudulent benefit claim.

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