Local Housing Allowance affects any landlord who enters into a deregulated private tenancy agreement with somebody who receives housing benefit.
A deregulated private tenancy is one that has been entered into since 1989 and isn't covered by one of the exceptions listed below.
Local Housing Allowance doesn't affect:
- local authority landlords who let to council tenants
- tenancies with registered social landlords
- some supported housing
- tenancies which started before 15 January 1989
- tenancies in caravans, houseboats or hostels
- tenancies where our Rent Officer has decided that a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance.
Protection for landlords
There are a range of safeguards to protect the interests of landlords. For example, a local authority must usually pay the benefit to the landlord if the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.
We will make payment direct to the landlord if we decide that the tenant is:
- likely to have difficulty in managing their financial affairs
- unlikely to pay their rent
We can also pay benefit to the landlord if, during the current claim for benefit, we've had to pay the landlord because the tenant was eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.
We recommend that, if a tenant is starting to build up rent arrears, you get in touch with us before it gets to eight weeks. This will allow us to investigate whether there's a problem that needs addressing.
Deciding if a tenant is likely to have difficulty paying their rent
- We will decide if a tenant is likely to have difficulty in paying their rent.
- We'll need evidence to support a request from a tenant or other interested party.
- We'll take into account all information/evidence available, including known past history when making our decision.
As a landlord:
- you can approach us if you think it's likely your tenant will have difficulty in paying or you feel they can't manage their money. We'll contact your tenant for further information.
- It's important you keep proper and adequate records of rent payments received and details of any contact made with the tenant.
As part of the housing benefit reforms, tenants can't simply ask for their benefit to be paid direct to their landlords. In special circumstances, where they feel that they may have difficulty in managing their money, they can ask us to consider paying benefit direct to their landlord.
The length of time we'll pay benefit direct to a landlord will vary, depending on the tenant's situation. This could mean, after paying benefit direct to a landlord for a short period of time and once arrears have been cleared, or the tenant is in a better position to manage their money and pay their rent themselves, we'll stop direct payments.
If we think a tenant is likely to have difficulty in paying their rent and there's little or no prospect of their situation changing, payment of benefit to the landlord is likely to be long-term.
Making direct payment a condition of the tenancy
A local authority isn't party to the tenancy agreement between a landlord and tenant, and isn't bound by any conditions in a tenancy agreement. We can't pay benefit to a landlord directly at the tenant's request - the rules about when we can pay the landlord directly are outlined above. You can't change this by making direct payment a condition of the tenancy.
You have the right to appeal against our decision not to make direct payments.