LHA - Financial Difficulties

Local Housing Allowance is paid to tenants and not directly to landlords.

Payment will be made directly to the landlord if we decide that the tenant is likely to have difficulty managing their financial affairs or unlikely to pay their rent. We can also decide to pay benefit to the landlord if, during the current claim to benefit, we have had to pay the landlord because the tenant was eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent.

Tenants, landlords, tenants’ families or persons acting on the tenants’ behalf, may tell us that they are having difficulty paying their rent, or are likely to. We may also identify tenants who may have difficulty managing their money, for example, when carrying out home visits. And landlords can contact us, especially if the tenant is getting into arrears with their rent.

Who may have difficulty paying their rent?

There are many reasons why someone may have difficulty paying their rent. They might be someone who:

  • has severe debt problems
  • has a recent County Court judgement against them• is an un-discharged bankrupt
  • is unable to open a bank or building society account
  • has some of their Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance paid direct to the gas, electricity or water company by the Department for Work and Pensions
  • is getting Supporting People help
  • is getting help from a homeless charity.

Or someone may have difficulty paying their rent if they:

  • have learning difficulties
  • have an illness that stops them managing on a day-to-day basis
  • cannot read English
  • cannot speak English
  • are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling
  • are fleeing domestic violence
  • are a care leaver
  • are leaving prison
  • are homeless.

There may be other reasons why someone might have difficulties. Ask us for more information.

Who decides if we may pay the landlord?

We decide if we may pay the landlord.

There may be times when Housing Benefit staff know someone has difficulty in managing their money and may take action based on this knowledge. We recommend that, if someone thinks a tenant may have difficulty managing their money, they encourage the tenant to contact us.

We must have evidence to show that they have difficulty managing their money and that it is in their interest that we pay the landlord directly. Evidence should usually be in writing. People who can provide evidence include:

  • the tenant
  • friends and family of the tenant
  • the landlord
  • welfare groups (including money advisers)
  • Social Services
  • probation officers
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • The Pension Service
  • homeless charities/organisations
  • Supporting People teams
  • local/council rent deposit scheme administrators, homelessness or housing advice officers.

We will work with the tenant in making our decision.

Making a Decision

Once we have collected evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if direct payments to the landlord are appropriate. We will still pay benefit while we are making our decision.

We will write to the tenant and explain our decision. We will also write to the landlord.

Reviews and Appeals

If the tenant or landlord disagrees with our decision they can ask us to look at the decision again. This is called a review. Or they can appeal against the decision, giving reasons why they think the decision is wrong.

Money advice

Tenants can get help managing their money from The Money Advice Unit.
Telephone: 01992 556371

Or they can visit a welfare organisation such as Citizens Advice.

Stevenage Citizens Advice Bureau has a 24 hr advice and information helpline: 0845 1203789 or visit them at Swingate House, Town Centre, Stevenage, SG1 1AF.

Further information

If you want more information about where we may consider direct payments to the landlord, or where we must pay the landlord:

  • phone the Housing Benefit Service on 01438 242440
  • visit us at: Stevenage Borough Council, Daneshill House, Stevenage, SG1 1HN.
  • email us to benefits@stevenage.gov.uk

Alternatively you can get advice and information from:

  • Direct Gov - information about LHA and links to the The Rent Service and Department for Work and Pensions websites.