There are two ways for a tenant to claim benefits to cover their housing costs: Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. The two systems have slightly different consequences for you as a landlord.
If They Are Claiming Universal Credit...
You can ask for a tenant’s housing costs under universal credit to be paid direct to you if the tenants owes at least 2 months' rent. You need to:
- complete the right form on Gov.uk
- provide details of the arrears
You can also request deductions from a tenant’s universal credit towards the rent arrears. Deductions should stop once the arrears are cleared.
Tenants can also request that payments are made directly to you, if they are in arrears or struggling to budget.
If They Are Claiming Housing Benefit...
Similarly, housing benefit is usually paid directly to the tenant who then pays rent to the landlord. The council must make a tenant’s housing benefit payments direct to the landlord if:
- a tenant has rent arrears of eight weeks or more
- deductions are being made from other benefits for rent arrears
In some cases, the council can choose to pay housing benefit direct to the landlord in other circumstances. They could do this if, for example, the tenant;
- has a history of not paying the rent
- struggles to pay the rent because of a medical condition or learning disability
- could lose their tenancy if they don't