What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is an amount of Benefit that has been paid, but
for which there was no entitlement under the Benefit
A fraudulent overpayment may occur when a person has
deliberately provided a false statement or document, or has
deliberately failed to report a change of circumstances with the
intention of obtaining or retaining Benefit.
The rules concerning the administration of Benefit overpayments
are contained in the Housing Benefit Regulations and other
subsequent legislation. The Council has a duty to implement these
legal provisions, and has a duty to recover overpayments from
tenants and landlords.
The Council may also decide to take criminal proceedings in
respect of fraudulent overpayments.
How do you recover the overpayment?
Recovery of an overpayment will not prejudice any criminal
proceedings that may be taken by the Council in respect of
An overpayment is recoverable from either the person who caused
the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.
If the tenant is currently receiving housing benefit, the
overpayment will be recovered from future benefit payments by a
If payments are made direct to the landlord, the tenant's
reduced entitlement will be reflected by the amount of the benefit
payment that is issued every 4 weeks.
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.
If the Council has decided to recover an overpayment from a
landlord it will issue an invoice or make deductions from other
tenants' benefit paid to that landlord. The amount of these
deductions should not be treated as rent arrears for those tenants,
and the landlord must not try to recover the shortfall from
What can I do if I disagree with the overpayment?
The claimant can ask for a review of a decision to calculate an
overpayment. Any such request should be made within 1 month of the
A landlord can request a review where recovery is being sought
from him personally; that is where an invoice for payment has been
issued to him, or a deduction is being made from the benefit he
receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an overpayment
owed by the landlord in respect of another tenant.
Where the overpayment is owed by the landlord personally, he
will be notified in writing of a decision to recover from him. Any
request for a review should be made within 1 month of the decision
A landlord can write to the Council at any time requesting a
written statement of reasons for the recovery of an overpayment
Where an invoice addressed to a landlord remains unpaid, or an
agreed arrangement to repay the debt over time is not being
maintained, the Council may take action in the County Court.
A landlord can only request a review where recovery is being
sought from him personally; that is, where an invoice for payment
has been issued to him, or a deduction is being made from the
benefit he receives for one of his tenants in order to recover an
overpayment owed by the landlord.
If a landlord habitually fails to repay overpayments that are
recoverable from him, the Council can decide that the landlord is
not a 'fit and proper person' under Benefit Regulations, and can
refuse to make direct benefit payments to that landlord.
For further information or specific help with information on
this page, please contact us:
Northumberland County Council
Tel No 0845 6006400
Fax No 01670 620098
If you would like any benefit document in a different format, or
if you need any help with language or translations please telephone
0845 6006400 and we will do all we can to help.
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