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Friday, July 10, 2009

LHA government clarifies when Councils can make direct payments

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) has been much criticised by landlords because it has replaced a system where money was often paid direct to the landlord with one which now pays tenants their housing allowance direct. This has resulted in many landlords not receiving their rent and put off many other landlords from letting to tenants on benifit.

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In a recent answer to a written question from Paul Burstow (Lib Dem) asking the Minister if they will review the rules governing LHA payment Kitty Ussher responded by clarifying when Local Authorities can make direct payments to landlords:

  • when the tenant is unlikely to pay (for example, where the local authority knows from past experience that the tenant is likely to abscond with the rent payment); or
  • when the tenant is likely to have difficulty in managing their rent payments; for example, due to an alcohol/gambling/drug dependency or because of a serious medical condition such as Alzheimer's disease; or
  • when the tenant is in arrears of eight weeks or more.

Her response is that she thinks it's working well.

"Despite landlords' initial fears, there is overwhelming evidence that customers have responded extremely well to the responsibility of managing their rent payments. Evidence from the evaluation has shown that customers regard paying the rent as a matter of prime importance and that most would prioritise this above all other payments. 84 per cent. of tenants are successfully managing their own housing benefit. Of the remaining 16 per cent. only a third are having their housing benefit paid to the landlord because they have fallen into arrears of eight weeks or more. Two-thirds are having their benefit paid to the landlords because the local authority, working together with landlords, has identified that they might not be able manage their rent payments. "

What do landlords think, would you agree?

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Rachehut said...

I disagree that the system is working. I have a tenant who has applied for LHA and 12 weeks later is still waiting for the council to pay. The council will not talk to me about my tenant's claims because she has not ticked the box that says they can. So my tenant is 12 weeks in arrears and says it is because she has not had her claim processed. I have no way of finding out whether what she tells me is true, because the council won't discuss it with me because of "data protection"! How does that benefit anyone then?

Anonymous said...

I would rather keep cows in my new build in Enfield now than my LHA tenant.