Under Local Housing Allowance (LHA), the levels of benefit that we can pay are made public so that all parties are aware of how much we can pay (see the Local Housing Allowance page).
Who is the housing benefit paid to?
Since April 2008, most Housing Benefit for new tenants is paid as LHA. Under legislation, LHA must be paid to the tenant, not the landlord, except under prescribed circumstances.
This is because the Government believes people should be responsible for their own financial commitments, rather than delegating the responsibility for paying their rent to the council. This, in effect, puts Housing Benefit tenants on a par with other tenants.
Circumstances where we can pay it to the landlord
LHA must be paid to the landlord if the tenant is eight (or more) weeks in rent arrears. If your tenant is eight or more weeks in arrears and you think they may be on Housing Benefits, you should write to the Council giving the details and providing evidence of their rent account.
If they are on Housing Benefit, and we agree that they are at least eight weeks behind with rent, we will pay the benefit to you. The address you should write to is:
The Benefits Service, Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX.
Please note that if you just call asking whether your tenant is on Housing Benefit, we probably won't be able to tell you, due to data protection. So, you must go through the procedure outlined above.
We also have the discretion to pay LHA to the landlord if:
1. we consider that the tenant is likely t have difficulty managing his or her financial affairs;
2. we consider that it is improbable that the tenant will pay the rent.
Requests to pay LHA to the landlord under these criteria usually come from the tenant, though we do take into account representations from third parties such as GPs, advice workers, social workers and landlords.