Housing Benefit and Landlords
Landlord Portal latest
5 December 2017 update: The issues with the landlord portal have been resolved and it is now working normally.
– an extension of the current Universal Credit roll out is expected in the Milton Keynes area this autumn, and landlords need to be prepared. See this link: Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords - GOV.UK for more details
Enhanced Private Sector Lease Scheme
– Milton Keynes Council is able to offer a free leasing service to landlords where the rent is guaranteed and the tenants are found for you. See here for more information.
– Milton Keynes Council regularly holds a landlords forum where a wide variety of topics are discussed. If you wish to be invited to future meetings, please e-mail email@example.com
– landlords are paid on a four weekly cycle fully in arrears. Payments normally take three working days from the payment being created to it being received by your bank and allocated to your account. We have three “payment runs” a week to pick up any outstanding payments owed.
– If you have a query relating to your tenants who receive Housing Benefit or any other Housing Benefit related issues please contact the Benefits Service on 01908 253100 or e-mail Benefits@milton-keynes.gov.uk.
It is our intention to cultivate a better working relationship between landlords and the Benefits Service through mutual understanding and an increased awareness of each other's needs. We would welcome your comments and suggestions.
Landlords Newsletters - reference area
Milton Keynes Council is now able to offer all landlords with Housing Benefit tenants in the Milton Keynes area access to our online landlord portal. This portal allows you to gain access to details about tenants for whom you receive payments of Housing Benefit.
The portal is an extremely useful tool as it allows you to view real time information relating to your tenants. You can access details such as payments, entitlement and claim status as well as being able to view other items such as payment history.
As our service moves forward and we prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit, it is especially important that landlords use the portal to answer many of the queries we normally receive via telephone, e-mail and visits to our office. It is therefore now a requirement of the Benefits Service that all landlords who receive payments from us are signed up to the portal.
To sign up for the on-line Landlord Portal, you will need to sign and date the service level agreement and complete the user request form in full.
Housing Benefit is a national scheme, which helps tenants on low incomes to pay their rent, and is administered and paid by the Council – deposits or rent in advance are dealt with by the Local Welfare Provision team (see section below on Discretionary Housing Payments). As well as claiming Housing Benefit, tenants can also claim Council Tax Reduction.
Tenants apply to their local council - this is done in Milton Keynes primarily via an electronic form which is completed over the telephone or in person. All applications must be supported by full original documentation, which confirms the tenant’s income and identity as well as confirming the rent charged and the tenancy conditions. Tenants should claim Housing Benefit as soon as they move into a property to avoid losing benefit.
Anyone who pays rent for the accommodation in which they live is entitled to apply for Housing Benefit, but this does not mean that they will necessarily qualify for it.
When deciding how much Housing Benefit a tenant is entitled to, the council will take the maximum amount the government says your tenant needs to live on per week and compare it to their income and savings. Generally speaking, the more income a tenant has, the less Housing Benefit they will receive. Other factors taken into account are the number of other adults in the property and the level of rent charged. The calculation is based on the relevant Local Housing Allowance rate (see below).
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) LHA is a flat rate allowance towards rent costs based on the number of people living with the claimant and how many bedrooms they need. LHA is not based on the rent charged by the landlord.
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Where can I find the current LHA rates?
Please follow this link - LHA Rates. This will tell you the current LHA rates and the way in which the number of rooms a claimant requires is calculated.
A Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) is a special payment made to individuals who need extra help with their Housing costs. DHP's are not part of the normal Housing Benefit scheme, and are paid for by Central Government on a yearly basis from a limited fund. It is administered by the Local Welfare Provision team – there may also be the possibility that deposits and rent in advance can be paid from this fund for tenants. Call 01908 253040 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Housing Benefit is currently paid by BACS 4 weeks in arrears to landlords and/or weekly or 2 weekly in arrears to tenants. Payment can be made to you if it is a condition of the tenancy, if it is in the tenant’s interests or if they are more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent. Please note that before payment can be made to a landlord the “Paying Benefit Direct to your Landlord” form must be completed. This will be sent to you if payment is to be made to you.
It is a landlord’s duty to inform the Benefit Service of any changes in their tenant’s circumstances of which they are aware which may affect that tenant’s entitlement to Housing Benefit. For example, if the landlord becomes aware that their tenant has vacated a property then Benefit Services must be informed immediately. Tenants however have an equal responsibility to inform us of any changes to their circumstances
Inevitably when a tenant has claimed Housing Benefit, an overpayment may result due to a change in circumstances, and this overpayment can be either recovered from the claimant or from the person to whom payment was made. There are two main methods of recovery of overpayments:
1. Via deductions from a claimant’s ongoing Housing Benefit.
2.Via the issue of an invoice.
If the decision is made to recover from a tenant’s ongoing Benefit via a set weekly deduction and payment is made to the landlord, then this will obviously reduce the amount a landlord receives on a 4 weekly basis. Landlords are kept fully informed as to the amount of the deduction and when deductions would commence, but it is then the tenant’s responsibility to make up the shortfall in the rent.
If the decision is made to recover the overpayment from the landlord, then an invoice is issued. This will show the name and address of the tenant, the amount of the overpayment and the period to which it relates. A landlord does have the right to appeal against repayment of the amount outstanding, not the amount or the cause. Any appeal must be in writing, giving full reasons for the appeal and must be received within one month of the date of the original notification. If a landlord experiences difficulty in repaying an invoice, then it may be possible to negotiate repayment by instalments.
Any underpayments of housing benefit due will be used to offset (reduce) any outstanding overpayments that are owed.
If a landlord fails to repay an overpayment, then the council has powers to recover the amount from the Housing Benefit of any other tenants the landlord may have, and while this is done reluctantly, it is sometimes necessary. You should also be aware that if a tenant has an overpayment from a previous claim, then this would also be recovered from any new claim that the tenant makes.
A landlord has no right of appeal concerning their tenant’s claim for Housing Benefit. If a tenant wishes a decision to be reconsidered, then this request must be made in writing by the tenant, not the landlord. However, we can consider a request to review the decision not to pay a tenant’s benefit directly to the landlord.
The Benefit Service cannot disclose any information to you unless the tenant has signed an agreement confirming that this is acceptable. If you receive payment, then you are entitled to know the amount of benefit being paid, the date it started and any amount being recovered from an overpayment.
If you rent out your property to more than one tenant and each tenant has their own tenancy agreement, then this classes your property as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and it would be your responsibility to pay the Council Tax.
If you rent your property to a tenant or joint tenants (joint tenants are those who have an equal liability for payment of the rent but only have one tenancy agreement between them) then they are normally responsible for payment of the Council Tax, and their claim for Council Tax Reduction will be dealt with at the same time as their claim for Housing Benefit. They will however, be responsible for payment of the council tax from the date of their tenancy and will be sent a bill in their name or names.
If you think that it is possible that your tenant is committing benefit fraud then it is essential that you inform us immediately. Please call the Benefits Helpline on 01908 253100 if you have a case involving suspected fraud that you wish to discuss.
Landlords can help the Benefit Service by keeping us informed of any changes in their tenant’s circumstances of which they become aware as soon as possible. This reduces the possibility of overpayments being raised and improves the overall efficiency of the service.
The council is keen to improve its working relationship with landlords and we welcome any comments or suggestions to improve the service. If you have any suggestions relating to Housing Benefit that you wish to discuss or would like clarification on general Housing Benefit issues, please e-mail email@example.com. For all other enquiries please call the Benefits Helpline on 01908 253100
The government’s programme of Welfare Reform means that inevitably there will be amendments to the system of paying Housing costs in the coming years. Universal Credit is being introduced in the MK area from November 2015 and this will mean that some new claimants will not be able to claim Housing Benefit for their Housing costs. Please see our Universal Credit pages for more information.
If your tenant has rent arrears of 8 weeks or more and you would like us to pay Housing Benefit direct to you, please complete the Landlord Application for Payment Direct (PDF, 120KB)
Last Updated: 12 November 2018