Housing Benefit payments are normally made at intervals of four weeks, in arrears. Thus there are 13 payments in a calendar year, so each four-weekly payment will not equate exactly to a month’s rent.
If your tenant is subject to Local Housing Allowance then their Housing Benefit will be paid direct to them. However, to protect vulnerable tenants and reassure their landlords, the Council will have a discretion to pay the landlord. However, you should be aware that doing this does give you certain duties, such as notifying the Council if you become aware of a change in your tenant’s circumstances, and the possibility of having to repay any overpayments of Housing Benefit which may arise. In this respect, you will need to complete a payment mandate, which both you and the tenant must sign, in which you undertake to fulfil these duties. You can also request that Housing Benefit is paid direct to you where your tenant is more than eight weeks in arrears with their rent payments.
Once you and the tenant have signed the payment mandate, you will receive notification from the Council of the amount of Housing Benefit which the tenant has been awarded. This can vary from time to time depending on their circumstances, and may not meet their full contractual rent liability. In this situation, the tenant is responsible for making up any shortfall between the Housing Benefit and their contractual rent. Housing Benefit does not pay for deposits, and is only payable whilst the tenant uses the property as their home.
As a landlord, you have limited appeal rights. You cannot appeal against the level of the Housing Benefit awarded (even if it is ‘Nil’), only the tenant can do this. You are able to appeal against the amount of an overpayment, the Council’s decision to pay or not to pay the Housing benefit direct to you, and the decision to recover an overpayment from you.