Housing benefit cases
If your tenant is in receipt of Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance (LHA), this means that you now have the right to request that payment of benefit is made direct to you.
You should should write to the benefit office, letting them know the situation, as soon as possible. Send a copy of the possession notice, if you have served one.
Letter to the benefit office:
Re: (Name of tenant/ recipient of benefit and address of the property)
We are the landlord of the above tenant who we understand is in receipt of housing benefit / local housing allowance from you.
We write to inform you that the tenant is currently over eight weeks in arrears of rent. We attach a schedule showing how these arrears arose and the total arrears due.
We understand that under section 95(1)(b) of the Housing Benefit Regulations 1996, you are obliged to make payment direct to us once the tenant is in arrears of an amount equivalent to 8 weeks or more, of the amount the tenant is liable to pay as rent.
We would also draw your attention to the case of Doncaster v Coventry City Council, First Tier Tribunal 032/09/00932, 5 October 2009 which confirms that where rent is payable in advance to a landlord, the local authority should also pay the rent in advance.
Please see below for details of how I would like payment to be made.
(IDetails of how you would like to be paid)
You should also include a schedule giving details to the HB office regarding payment to you, the name of the payee and the address payment should be sent to, and/or details of your bank account if you want them to pay direct into your account. If you are enclosing a section 8 notice, you can also mention this. (eg “NB Section 8 notice enclosed for information”).
Where tenants are in arrears of two months/eight weeks, the Benefit Office will normally then make payment direct to the landlord. Sometimes they will agree to do this before the arrears reach this level, if it is clear that the tenant is in difficulties.
This is particularly useful where tenants are in receipt of LHA, which is normally paid direct to the tenant even if the tenant and landlord would prefer it paid to the landlord. If you think that this applies to your tenant, have a word with the HB office and see what their attitude is.
If benefit can be paid direct to you, this will stop the arrears increasing, or at least limit the increase. You will then be able to consider whether this is a case where you can reach some sort of agreement with your tenant for him to pay off the arrears, or whether you will have to either write off the arrears or proceed to some sort of court action (covered in stages three and four).
(See >> here for some information guides published by the government on benefit.)