Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Reduction information for landlords.

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit is a Government benefit to help people pay their rent. Ceredigion County Council administers the scheme for people living within its area. How much they get depends on their circumstances and how much rent they have to pay.

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What is Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a flat rate housing allowance, based on the rent levels for a given area and the size of the tenant's household, not the actual rent charged for the property.  For a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions designed to help Landlords understand how Local Housing Allowance will affect them please see LHA - A Guide For Landlords

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What is Council Tax Reduction?

Council Tax Reduction is a Welsh Government scheme to provide help to people with their Council Tax. Ceredigion County Council administers the scheme for people liable to pay Council Tax and living within its area. How much they get depends on their circumstances and how much Council Tax they have to pay.

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Who can claim these benefits/reduction?

People can make a claim for the above if they are on a low income, unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or they are caring for someone and they satisfy all the following conditions:

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Who will not or may not be able to claim these benefits/reduction?

People will not be entitled to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction if:

  • They are not responsible for paying the rent and/or Council Tax.
  • They have more than £16,000 in savings and/or investments (unless they get the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit).
  • They pay rent to a close relative who lives in the same property (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • They rent a property, which they (or their partner) previously owned (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • They live in a care home, such as a nursing home or elderly person's home (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • They are the parent or guardian of the landlord's child (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • They live in the home as a condition of their employment by the landlord (for Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance cases only).
  • They are an asylum seeker, unless they have been given refugee status or indefinite or exceptional leave (also called discretionary or humanitarian leave) to remain in the United Kingdom. 
  • They have been admitted to the United Kingdom on the condition that they have no recourse to public funds.  This means that they must not claim benefits in the United Kingdom. 
  • They are a sponsored immigrant and have lived here for less than five years. 
  • They are in the United Kingdom illegally or their permission to stay has run out. 

People may not be entitled to Housing Benefit/ Local Housing Allowance if:

  • They used to live with the landlord as a family member, relative or friend, and now pay that person rent. 
  • They live in a property run by a religious order and they are a member of that religious order. 
  • They rent from a trust and they are also a trustee or beneficiary. 
  • They rent the property from a company and they are a director or employee of the company. 
  • They used to own the property which they now rent. 
  • They are a student - please see 'Students' for further information on who can claim.
  • They are temporarily living away from their usual home

Please note the above is intended as guidance only. The regulations in respect of eligibility and 'Persons from Abroad' are extremely complex and you can contact us on 01970 633252 or email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk to check if an individual would be eligible to claim benefit/reduction.

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How does my tenant claim these benefits/reduction?

If they have claimed Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment Support Allowance they can also make a claim for Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and/or Council Tax Reduction at the same time. This will be forwarded onto us by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

If they are not claiming or not entitled to one of the above DWP benefits, they will need to complete a Local Authority application form and provide documentary evidence as detailed in 'What information do you need to work out my benefit/reduction?'

They can complete an application form on-line, download an Application form or they can contact us on 01970 633252 and we will send them a claim form. Alternatively, they can email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk providing their postal address or write to the Local Authority at the address shown on the contact page. They can also collect a claim form at any Local District Office.

It is important that they complete and return the claim form to us at the address shown as soon as possible. If they do not have all the documentary evidence that we have asked for on the form straight away they should still return it to us, stating either on the form or a separate sheet of paper when the other information will be provided. If they delay sending the form to us, they could lose benefit/reduction.

It is very important that they complete each section on the form and tick each yes and no box. If the form is not completed properly we will have to return it to them and it will delay their claim.

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What information do you need to work out benefit/reduction?

It is important that the correct entitlement is paid to our customers and that fraud and error are detected and prevented as early as possible. This relies on us:

  • Collecting appropriate information and evidence in support of claims and
  • Carrying out checks once a claim is in payment.

It also relies on our customers advising us immediately if their circumstances change. If they do not tell us about these changes they may lose money that they are entitled to or they may get too much benefit/reduction.

In addition to their completed application form they will have to provide:

  • Evidence of identity
  • Evidence of address
  • Evidence of national insurance number
  • Evidence of capital, savings and investments
  • Evidence of earnings
  • Evidence of other income
  • Evidence of benefits, allowances or pensions
  • Evidence of private rent and tenancy
  • Evidence of other money paid out

Please see Supporting Evidence Checklist for a full list of documents that can be provided in support of their claim.

We can only accept original documents and not photocopies.

If they do not have all the evidence and information we need to support their claim, they should not delay sending in their form. Any supporting evidence should be supplied as soon as possible in order to consider their claim; however, this information must be supplied within one month of submitting the claim form.

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Will Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance cover the full rent?

Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance may not cover the full rental liability and your tenant will therefore be responsible for any shortfall between the benefit awarded and the actual rent you charge.

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

Yes. Local Housing Allowance is based on the number of rooms your tenant and their family (if applicable) need and the area in which they live. To find out which area the property you wish to let is located, please check directly with the Rent Service by entering the postcode on their website at LHA Direct.

LHA rates are reviewed annually from the beginning of April each year unless there is a change in your tenant's circumstances which will affect the number of bedrooms used to calculate LHA, for example, when another person moves into or out of the property.

Once you have established the number of bedrooms your tenant and their family (if applicable) need you can - View current rates for Ceredigion.

For tenancies not affected by Local Housing Allowance, you can find out how much of the rent we will use to work out your tenant's Housing Benefit before they decide to occupy your property. They can do this by filling in a pre-tenancy determination form.

Your tenant can contact us on 01970 633252, email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call in at any of our Local District Offices to request a pre-tenancy determination form.

Please note that the weekly Local Housing Allowance rates/pre-tenancy determination figures provide the maximum level of benefit that could be paid. Your tenant will be required to complete an application form and provide all supporting evidence in order that the Local Authority can calculate their weekly entitlement.

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How is Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance paid?

If your tenant has been continuously receiving Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008 or is a Housing Association tenant who qualifies for Housing Benefit, we pay them a 'rent allowance'. The rent allowance is usually paid every 2 weeks in arrears to the tenant. However, we can sometimes pay the Housing Benefit direct to the Housing Association or landlord. Direct payment of rent allowance to a Housing Association or landlord will be made every 4 weeks, in arrears.

If your tenant qualifies for Local Housing Allowance since the 7 April 2008 we must pay this to the tenant unless there are exceptional circumstances. We can only make payments to you as landlord in specific circumstances and we have developed a set of criteria that help us make a decision on these cases; we call this our Safeguard Policy. This is also explained in more detail in our LHA - A Guide For Landlords.

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What can I do if my tenant has rent arrears?

Landlords are encouraged to notify the Local Authority at the earliest opportunity if a tenant is not paying their rent. Please write to us providing evidence of the arrears, so we can decide what action to take.

However, the Benefit regulations provide that if a tenant owes rent for eight weeks or more, we must pay you direct, unless we consider it in the tenant's best interest not to do so.

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How long does it take to sort out a claim for Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance?

We aim to make a decision regarding their claim within 14 days of receiving all necessary information.

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What happens if my tenant's circumstances change?

The law says that the Local Authority must be informed if there are any changes to the information we have used to decide the amount of Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance, and/or Council Tax Reduction customers are entitled to.

It is very important to tell us straightaway. Customers should get in touch with us even if they are still waiting to hear from us about their claim, and even if they have told someone else, for example, The Department for Work and Pensions.

If they do not tell us, it may mean that the amount of benefit/reduction they get is incorrect. We may not be paying them enough and they could miss out on money they are entitled to or it may mean that we are overpaying them and they will have to pay it back later.

If you receive payments of Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance in respect of your tenant you have a duty to inform the Local Authority of any changes that you are made aware of or if your tenant vacates the property.

You can contact us on 01970 633252, email us at revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk, call in at any of our Local District Offices or  write to the Local Authority at the address shown on the cocontactntact page to report a change in your tenant's circumstances.

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How do I report a suspected Fraud?

The Local Authority is committed to ensuring that people receive their correct entitlement to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance, and/or Council Tax Benefit and every effort will be made to deal with claims as quickly as possible.

However, it is important that people who are claiming benefit/reduction to which they are not entitled are reported to the Benefit Service so that the appropriate action can be taken against them.

If you are aware of or think that somebody may be claiming benefits/reduction fraudulently you can contact us on the Benefit Fraud Hotline 0800 854440, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will treat any information that you give us as confidential.

Please see Benefit Fraud for more information.

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What if you have paid too much Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance?

If we have paid too much Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance, we can ask you or your tenant to pay the money back. We will look at the circumstances of the overpayment in order to decide:

  • whether the overpayment is recoverable and
  • who the overpayment should be recovered from.

We will write to you if we decide to recover the overpayment from you.

Please see Overpayments and Debt for more information.

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What if I or my tenant disagrees with any decision you have made?

FOR HOUSING BENEFIT OR LOCAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE:

If you want to know more about the decision or if you think it is wrong, you should get in touch with us within one month from the date of the notification letter or we may not be able to consider any dispute.

You can either ask for an explanation or:

  • ask, in writing, for a written 'Statement of Reason'
  • ask us to look again at the decision – 'Dispute the Decision'. This must be done in writing. If the decision can be changed we will send you a new decision. If we cannot change the decision we will tell you why. If you still disagree you have one month to appeal from the date of the new decision.
  • Appeal against the decision – this can only be done in writing. If you appeal against the decision your appeal will be referred to an Independent Tribunal administered by The Tribunal Service.

However, as landlord you can only appeal to an Independent Tribunal against our decision on:

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

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What information will you give me about my tenant's Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance?

If we pay Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance to your tenant, we cannot give you any information about their claim, unless they have given us permission in writing to discuss their claim with you. We cannot even tell you if they have made a claim.

If we pay their Housing Benefit/ Local Housing Allowance to you, we can tell you:

  • the date the benefit will start and end
  • the amount of benefit they get every week and how often we pay it
  • the amount we are taking from their benefit to recover an overpayment 
  • details of any BACS payment/cheque we pay directly to you.

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