How we pay benefits

Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Reduction (CTR) are paid in different ways depending on what type of tenancy you have or whether you own your property and when you claimed.

Council Tax Reduction

If you get CTR it will be used to reduce the amount of Council Tax you have to pay. Once your benefit is worked out we will send you a new Council Tax bill. To see how much you might be entitled to use our Benefits Calculator.

Housing Benefit payments to private tenants

If a home is rented from a private landlord how we pay HB depends on when the claim was made and the type of tenancy and landlord.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Most claims made by private tenants after 7 April 2008 will be paid under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules. There are some exceptions to this. See 'Claims made outside the Local Housing Allowance rules' (below) for further details.

Under the LHA rules we must pay HB to the tenant. There is no longer the choice to ask us to pay a landlord or their agent, even if the tenant would like us to. However, there are some people who will either:

  • have problems paying their rent; or
  • are unlikely to pay their rent, because of the past history.

In these cases we are able to consider paying HB directly to a landlord or their agent. Normally we need evidence that a claimant falls into the categories above.

If you have evidence that you or your tenant falls into this category you can fill in a request to pay Local Housing Allowance to the landlord(pdf, 41KB).

Richmond has a policy that prevents vulnerable tenants who are unable to manage their financial affairs and those tenants who are unlikely to pay their rent from falling into arrears. Our Safeguard Policy(pdf, 60KB) has more information.

Claims made outside of the Local Housing allowance rules

If the LHA rules do not apply, there is more choice about who we can pay. A tenant is exempt from LHA rules for the following categories:

  • claims made before 7 April 2008
  • tenants of Registered Social Landlords or tenants of Registered Housing Associations; or
  • tenancies which started before 15 January 1989; or
  • certain supported housing, where the landlord is a registered social landlord, charity or non profit making voluntary organisation, that provides the tenant with care, support or supervision; or
  • hostel dwellers; or
  • tenancies where the Rent Officer has decided that a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance.

If the pre LHA rules apply a tenant can request that we pay either:

  • themselves; or
  • the landlord; or
  • the landlord's agent

On their claim for HB, they must choose either:

  • to have the payments made directly to their bank or building society account; or
  • to have the payments made directly to the landlord or their agent's bank or building society account.

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.

Frequency of payments

  • If we pay the tenant we will pay fortnightly in arrears to a bank account. If you don't have a bank account most high streets banks have a 'basic' bank account which nearly everyone can open. You usually don't need to put any money in to open an account. Please contact a bank or building society to open an account.
  • If we pay the landlord or the landlords agent we will pay every four weeks in arrears to their bank account.

Tenants in arrears

If the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent, we must pay the landlord, unless there is a legal reason for withholding the rent.

If the tenant is in arrears equivalent to more than 8 weeks please fill in the request to pay Local Housing Allowance to the landlord(pdf, 41KB) form and return it to us. We may be able to suspend Housing Benefit, until we can make a revised decision on who we pay.

In this section:

Updated: 31 July 2017