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Payment of housing benefit

This content applies to England

How often housing benefit is paid, and the manner in which it can be paid.

Local authority tenants

Housing benefit for a local authority tenant is paid directly to into her/his rent account. The payment to a local authority tenant is known as a 'rent rebate'.

Other tenants

Housing benefit for claimants who are not local authority tenants can be paid to the claimant or her/his landlord, as described below. The payment to a non-local authority tenant is known as a 'rent allowance'. The most common payment frequency is once every four weeks, although it can be paid fortnightly, monthly, or if agreed with the claimant at intervals greater than a month.[1]

Payments are usually made by bank transfer, but the local authority must take into account reasonable needs and convenience of the person.[2]

Housing benefit can be paid directly to a landlord at the tenant's request, or if the local authority considers it to be in the tenant's best interests.[3]

The local authority must make payments direct to the tenant's landlord if one of the following applies:[4]

  • the claimant is eight weeks or more in rent arrears and payment to the landlord is not against the claimant's interest
  • a deduction from income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance or pension credit is being made to pay arrears.

Arrears on rent in advance can be taken into account when calculating the eight weeks' threshold.[5]

However, the local authority can refuse to make housing benefit payments directly to the landlord if it considers that the landlord is not a fit and proper person to receive such payments.[6]

For the rules that apply to the payment of housing benefit under the local housing allowance scheme, see How LHA is paid.

[1] reg 92 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 73 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[2] reg 91 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 72 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

[3] reg 96 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 77 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214; DLT v Eastleigh BC (HB) [2014] UKUT 242 AAC.

[4] reg 95 Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 76 Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214;

[5] ST v Sunderland City Council (CH) [2019] UKUT 33 (AAC).

[6] reg 96(3) Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 SI 2006/213; reg 77(3) Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for pension credit) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/214.

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