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Overpayment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit

If you are paid too much Housing Benefit, for example because you did not tell us about a change of circumstances, you will need to pay back the amount you were not entitled to.

Failure to declare a change of circumstance is potentially a criminal offence that may result in legal action being taken against you, including prosecution.

How we recover overpayments

We can recover an overpayment from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received it.

This will not prejudice any criminal proceedings that may be taken by the Council in respect of fraudulent overpayments. In other words, if we successfully prosecute you for a fraudulent claim, you will still have to pay back the overpayment on top of any sentence or fine the court may give you.

Recovery from the tenant

If the tenant is currently receiving Housing Benefit, the overpayment will be recovered from future benefit payments by a weekly deduction. This is known as recovery from ongoing benefit or 'claw-back'.

If payments are made direct to the landlord, we will reduce the amount of Housing Benefit paid every 4 weeks by the amount we are clawing back to recover the overpayment. The tenant is responsible for paying any rent arrears that occur as a result of the reduced amount paid to the landlord.

If the tenant is not currently receiving Housing Benefit, the overpayment may be recovered from other benefits or an invoice for payment may be issued.

Recovery from the landlord

If a landlord received an overpayment of Housing Benefit 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.

Appeal rights

Claimants can ask for a revision or appeal of a decision to calculate an overpayment. You must make a request in writing within one month of the decision notice.

Landlords have the right of appeal against a decision to recover an overpayment from them but do not usually have the right of appeal against the reason for the overpayment.

Where the overpayment is owed by the landlord, he or she will be notified in writing of the decision to recover the overpayment. Any request for a review should be made within one month of the decision notice.

A landlord can write to the Council at any time requesting a written statement of reasons for the recovery of an overpayment from him.

More about appealing against a Housing Benefit decision.

Contact us

Online: Make an enquiry
Telephone: 020 8891 1411


London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Benefits Service
PO Box 72385
SW18 9PG

To drop off any documents requested please come to the Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Updated: 06 July 2020

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