First LHA payment to Landlord
Housing Benefit Regulations state that "a first payment of rent allowance following the making of a decision on a claim may be made in whole or in part by sending to the claimant an instrument of payment payable to that landlord".
Regulations allow the Council to send the first payment of the LHA to the tenant but with the cheque made payable to the landlord. Only the first payment may be made under this provision. Subsequent payments must be made payable to the tenant unless there are grounds for paying the landlord arising from "unable to manage their affairs" or "unlikely to pay" provisions, as detailed earlier in this document.
The provision can only be made where:
- the claimant has not already fully met their rental liability, less ineligible charges, for the period covered by the benefit payment, and;
- it would be in the interests of the efficient administration of housing benefit.
In the cases outlined below we may make payment of the LHA payable to the landlord. In doing this:
- It will provide confirmation that a genuine tenancy has been created between landlord and tenant;
- It reduces the potential of abuse where the initial LHA payment is larger than a normal payment due to a delay in deciding a claim.
- It will inform the landlord that the Housing Benefit claim has been determined and that they can make arrangements with the tenant regarding future payments of rent.
Circumstances when the first payment of LHA should NOT be made payable to the landlord but sent to the tenant’s address by cheque or paid by BACS transfer.
The Benefits Service will not make the first payment to the landlord when evidence is provided or information is made available to show that the tenant is likely to have paid the rent for the period covered by the first payment.
If the landlord is not a "fit and proper person" then the Benefits Service will make payment of the LHA to the tenant.
Circumstances when the first payment of LHA should be made payable to the landlord by cheque but sent to the tenant’s address
If a tenant has not paid their rent then the first payment may be made payable to the landlord.
The payment of the LHA will only be up to the value of the rent for the relevant period any excess LHA will be paid to the tenant.
Tenant has requested that the first payment is not made payable to the landlord.
Where a tenant does not want the first payment made payable to the landlord the Benefits Service will consider the reasons why the payment should not be made payable to the landlord.
The decision made to make the first payment to the tenant and not the landlord will be based on the facts provided by the tenant and any evidence to support this. The Benefits Service will document the decision reached. The landlord has no right of appeal where the Benefits Service does not consider making the first payment to the landlord.
A cheque that is made payable to a landlord and issued to a tenant that is not cashed and is subsequently made payable to the tenant makes the landlord an affected person. The Benefits Service will inform the landlord of the decision to pay the tenant and offer them a right of appeal.
Landlord is not considered a "fit and proper" person
The Benefits Service will not make the first payment of the LHA payable to the landlord where a decision to treat a landlord as not a " fit and proper" has been made by the Council.