Northumberland County Council > Housing > Housing benefits > Information for landlords (ho

Information for landlords (housing benefits)

also known as: Landlord information, Rent officer.

The information on this page is designed to help Landlords to understand how we can help them, and how housing benefits can work for their tenants.

Landlord Forums

Landlord Forums are an opportunity to meet other landlords and keep up to date with regulations and legislation. The forums are informal and there are often guest speakers. We hold forums in the north, west and south east of the county at least twice a year. Find out more here.

Housing benefit

The information below applies to those landlords who have tenants claiming housing benefit. We have also produced a Landlord FAQ guide.

Tenants who claim Income Support or income based Jobseekers Allowance will get a Housing Benefit claim form (HCTB1) when they claim. They should send this form directly to our benefit section. Jobcentre Plus will tell us if the tenant gets Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based).

If your tenant applies for Pension Credit, they will be asked whether they want to claim for Housing Benefit on the Pension Credit application form. The Pension Service will then send them an HCTB1 (PC) form. They need to send the filled-in form to our benefit section.

Your tenants do not have to be getting Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (income based) or Pension Credit to get Housing Benefit. In these cases they can claim Housing Benefit directly from us by filling in a claim form. Once they have filled in the form, they must send it back to us as soon as possible.

Can I find out the maximum Housing Benefit a tenant is entitled to before they move in?

Yes. The maximum Housing Benefit a tenant is entitled to will be the rate of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) set for the number of rooms your tenant needs in the area they live in. View the 2014-15 LHA rates here.

How is Housing Benefit paid?

Housing Benefit will almost always be paid to the tenant. It is their responsibility to pay you their rent. There are very few circumstances where we will pay Housing Benefit direct to the landlord. If you have any further queries regarding this please contact us on 0845 600 6400 or one of our local numbers.

What can I do if my tenant has rent arrears?

The Housing Benefit regulations say that if a tenant owes rent for eight weeks or more, we must pay the landlord direct, unless we consider it in the tenant’s best interest not to pay you direct.

There are a range of safeguards to protect the interests of landlords. For example, a local authority must usually pay the benefit to the landlord if the tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.

Payment may be made direct to the landlord where we decide that the tenant is:

  • likely to have difficulty in managing their financial affairs
  • unlikely to pay their rent
  • the authority considers that paying the landlord will assist the claimant in securing or retaining their letting

We recommend that, if a tenant is starting to build up rent arrears, you should get in touch with us before it gets to eight weeks. This will allow us to investigate whether there is a problem that needs addressing

What happens if my tenant’s circumstances change?

You and your tenant should tell us straight away, in writing, about any change that may affect their benefit.

Typical examples of changes in tenants’ circumstances are:

  • if they change address
  • if their rent changes
  • if the size of their family changes
  • if an adult moves into or out of the house
  • if the tenant’s income changes

What if I do not agree with any decision you have made?

Landlords only have certain rights to appeal if they do not agree with our decision about their tenants Housing Benefit. These include:

  • whether we will pay benefit direct to you or not; or
  • whether we decide you should repay an overpayment or not

Rent officer and lettings information

To ensure the Local Housing Allowance follows the market, the Valuation Office Agency continually gather lettings information from all available sources. Landlords can make a big impact by providing examples of properties let.

The more comprehensive the list of rents the more accurately the LHA will track the market so tenants receive an appropriate level of benefit.

What information does the Valuation Office Agency Need?

The lettings proforma shows the range of information that the VOA is looking for.

How can I provide this?

Please complete the lettings proforma and return it to us by:

  • email: George.S.Bertram@voa.gsi.gov.uk.
  • fax: 0191 220 7010
  • post: Mr Stephen Bertram, Valuation Office Agency, Wycliffe House, Green Lane, Durham, DH1 3UW.

We are also happy to receive information over the phone or arrange a visit to attend a local landlord forum. Please contact George Bertram by:

Bulk Data Transfer: We can accept larger amounts of information electronically. Please call: 0845 0264 696 to discuss this option further.

How will the information will be used

The more comprehensive the list of rents the more accurately the LHA will track the market so tenants receive an appropriate level of benefit.

Local Housing Allowance is based on rents achieved in the local Private Rented Sector (PRS) and is calculated from a list of rents gathered across a geographic area known as a Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA).

Local Authorities apply the allowance according to the number of bedrooms a claimant is entitled to.

The Valuation Office Agency (Rent Officer Functions) ensures the collection, storage, use and disposal of any lettings information is strictly controlled to comply completely with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. Rent Officers do not share this information with anyone else.

More information is available on the Valuation Office Agency website here.

Benefit fraud

People who deliberately claim benefits when they are not entitled to it are committing a criminal offence. If a landlord, who is paid housing benefit directly on behalf of their tenant, fails to notify the council that their tenant has left the property then they may be committing benefit fraud.

More information on benefit fraud is available here.

5Report benefit fraud here

Download a change of circumstances form