Overpayments for landlords
If you are a landlord who receives direct payment of your tenant’s housing benefit entitlement, you may be liable for any overpayments.
How overpayments occur
Overpayments may happen because -
- information was incorrect on initial claim
- there has been a change of circumstances
- a tenant leaves your property with advising us or giving notice (also see ‘overpayments due to your tenant leaving your property’ below)
- a claimant or landlord has deliberately claimed benefit to which they are not entitled
Responsibility for repaying the overpayment
When we discover an overpayment, we will look at the reasons it has been made and decide who we should recover the overpaid amount from.
Before you received direct payments of your tenant’s entitlement, we asked you to sign an agreement to repay any housing benefit paid in error. This means we can, if relevant, recover an overpayment from you.
If we decide you are responsible for the overpayment
We will notify you of the -
- name of tenant
- dates and periods
- reason for overpayment
If you do not agree with this decision, you have one month from the date of the notification to appeal.
More information about rights of appeal
How to repay the overpayment
To recover the overpaid amount, one month after sending your notification letter, we will either -
- send you an invoice for the full amount which will include payment details
- recover the debt from your ongoing schedules (known as direct recovery). For example, if you are receiving ongoing payments for other tenants, we will make deductions from these payments to the value of the amount of overpayment you have received.
When a tenant is responsible for an overpayment, we may reduce the amount of benefit that is paid to you to recover the overpaid amount. It is the tenant’s responsibility to pay any difference between the rent due and the "reduced" amount paid in your schedule. You have no right of appeal against such deductions.
What if I do not repay the overpaid amount
If you fail to repay an overpayment, under benefit regulations we can refuse to make any further direct benefit payments to you.
Overpayments due to your tenant leaving your property
If your tenant leaves your property without informing us, you may receive an overpayment. You will need to repay this overpayment as housing benefit cannot automatically be paid if your tenant –
- has failed to give you notice that they were leaving
- has not returned the keys
- has left personal belongings in your property
However, if your tenant was unable to give you notice and left your property early to move into another property, they may be able to request an overlap of benefit. This means they could claim up to four weeks housing benefit to cover the rent of your property until their tenancy with you ends.
The tenant must occupy their new home before requesting, in writing, an overlap payment for their old address.