How far back can overpaid Housing Benefit be reclaimed from Landlords?

by Readers Question

15:11 PM, 29th October 2013
About 7 years ago

How far back can overpaid Housing Benefit be reclaimed from Landlords?

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How far back can overpaid Housing Benefit be reclaimed from Landlords?

I am looking for confirmation of the legislation regarding reclaiming Housing Benefit overpaid directly to a private landlord. Is it true that if a council decides that an overpayment of Housing Benefit has been made they have up to 6 years to reclaim this money?

The tenant in question had a backdated Housing Benefit payment of circa £1800 made in 2010. We are not clear on the reason for the re-assessment and why this backdated payment was made by the HB department.

The tenant remains in one of our properties. We have previously had a situation where a tenant received a backdated payment of HB, we refunded the tenant this amount and they subsequently left our property. After this the HB department wrote to us and explained that the backdate was incorrect and they re-claimed the money from us. We at that point had no recourse to collect the money from our former tenant as we could not trace them.

As a result I want to be clear on exactly what powers HB department have to reclaim incorrect payments and specifically if there is a time limit which they must adhere to. My housing officer believes they have this option for up to 6 years from the payment but this seems prohibitive to me.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

JuliaHousing benefit



Comments

Bill irvine

15:28 PM, 31st August 2015
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Teg's Dad" at "31/08/2015 - 11:06":

Teg's Dad,

I have no issue with that at all; an entirely sensible approach

But in today's topsy turvy world, when even oil & gas engineers, contractors etc. lose their jobs/contacts and DWP pays off 3,500 staff, only to replace most with temporary contracts etc. there's always the chance one or more of your tenants could be affected by unemployment and forced to claim HB.

My point about the Overpayments was more about the fact, in the scale of issues, its importance is often exaggerated and used as an excuse for NOT taking on HB tenants. Of more importance, I would say, is the fact, some LHA tenants (albeit still a small minority) don't have the same level of responsibility as working tenants, which can often lead to tenancies being terminated without notice, keys not returned, the property trashed etc. costing the unsuspecting landlords £000's in lost revenue, with little recourse to recompense because of their financial status.

Thankfully, the majority of LHA tenants are not like that. Many are model tenants, living in your property for years with no problems whatsoever.

Bill Irvine

Jay James

15:55 PM, 31st August 2015
About 5 years ago

The experiences on here seem to be clear about what direction to take. Dont touch non-working HB tenants with a barge pole. Others, eg working HB tenants, may be okay.

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