Merton Council

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Landlords and agents of benefit claimants

We aim to keep you informed about changes to Housing Benefit (HB) and ask you what is important to you as landlords.

News for landlords

Since 1st March 2015 we stopped posting paper notifications to landlords to save costs and reduce waste. You will be able to access the letters by setting up an online account on My Tax and Benefits. Read more about Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

In this section

Keeping landlords informed

Newsletters

We send mail shots to landlords when there are major changes in government legislation. This tends to be March each year prior to April changes.

Please see our Benefits newsletter pages for the latest edition.

Energy performance certificates

Landlords need Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) from 1 October 2008. Download and read the leaflet below.

Landlord Guides

We update your own landlord's guide to Housing Benefit to reflect these changes and as our service modernises.

Housing benefit changes

Please see our Housing Benefit changes page for updates on the Government changes to the HB rules from April 2011.

If you are a registered social landlord or a registered provider of social housing, new rules are being introduced from 1st April 2013. These will restrict some of your working age tenant's eligible rent. For more information on these new under-occupation rules, see our Factsheet Landlords and Advisors

Universal Credit roll out in Merton

Universal Credit rolled out for the Live Singles Gateway Service from 18th January 2016 for non SM4 and CR7 postcodes for single claimants who are eligible. The main postcodes for this singles only type of Universal Credit are CR4, KT3, SW16, SW17, SW19 and SW20. The Universal Credit Full Digital Service for all types of Universal Credit claimant rolled out for SM4 and CR7 only postcodes from 18th January 2016 and 27th January 2016 respectively. Under the Full Digital Service singles, lone parents and couples with or without children must claim Universal Credit, unless they live in specified or supported exempt accommodation.

Click on the link below for useful support packs and guides for both private and social sector landlords.

For more information about Universal Credit, click on the links below:

Consulting landlords

We will be working with the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure landlords are consulted and informed about changes to payments to landlords when Housing Benefit is replaced by Universal Credit.

Social landlord website links

Here are links to some of our major housing associations and registered providers of social housing websites, where you can find information about welfare reform too. The links take you to their welfare reform or benefits page of their website. But click on the home page or link of their website for other service information.

Giving information about tenants to landlords

Many landlords insist that their tenants give permission to Merton Benefits Service to discuss their claims. The decision to discuss information ultimately lies with us. This is because our staff are under a duty to comply with the Data Protection Act principles, The Human Rights Act and must have due regard to disclosing private information about individuals. Our staff are subject to disciplinary action or prosecution if they fail to adhere to these.

Please see our Landlord Disclosure Policy for full details.

Payments of Housing Benefit to landlords

Under Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules we will usually pay Housing Benefit to the claimant. See our:

It is important that you ensure that your tenant is fully aware of their legal obligation to pay the full rent to you. It may be more convenient for you to ask the tenant to set up a standing order, because you or your agent will have to collect rent due otherwise.

There are some circumstances where we will pay HB by BACS Direct Credit directly to the landlord. See exceptions below:

Exceptions

Please note

We no longer pay HB to landlords by cheque. All payments are by BACS Direct Credit. We do need an email address to send payment schedules to. If you changes bank details please let us know promptly. See contact us.

Vulnerable tenants

Under Local Housing Allowance rules, we can consider paying landlords or their agents, where the tenant is likely to have difficulty paying their rent. If this applies to your tenant, it is vital that, when they make a new or change of address claim for Housing Benefit, there is a section on the forms for this and we must have proof of the reasons given for requesting direct payments. See Housing Benefit payments to private tenants for more details.

Securing affordable housing

We will also be amending our policies to comply with the new DWP guidance on direct payments to landlords to secure affordable accommodation. We will publish this before 1st April 2011.

See Housing Benefit payments to private tenants for more details.

LHA rules do not apply

There is more choice about who we can pay, if the LHA rules do not apply to your tenant's claim. Please see Housing Benefit payments to private tenants for more information.

Tenants in arrears

If the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent, we must pay you, unless the tenant has a legitimate reason for withholding the rent, for example, they are in dispute with you regarding repairs and maintenance. Please see Housing Benefit payments to private tenants for more information.

First HB payment

We will make the first payment of HB on a claim to the landlord if we believe it is in the best interests of the claimant and the payment is substantial. See Housing Benefit payments to private tenants for more details.

How often do we pay HB to landlords?

For most private tenants, payments of HB to landlords are made every 4 weeks for the previous 4 weeks.

Landlords should note that if HB is overpaid to them they may be liable to repay the overpayment if we believe they could have known the HB was overpaid (e.g. if the tenant moved out without notifying us). See Overpayments of HB to landlords.

Overpayments of HB to landlords

If a landlord received an overpayment of HB we can recover this from that landlord. We will usually take into account the reason for the overpayment and whether it is reasonable that the landlord could have known about the tenant's change in circumstances that caused the overpayment.

See Benefits overpayment page for more information.

See also

Related links

Contact us

For more details about our opening hours and how to contact us, go to Merton Benefits Service contact page.

This page was last updated on Thursday 3 November 2016

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