Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is paid directly from the local authority to the tenant – but unlike most rent, it’s paid in arrears. If a tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their payments, their landlord can apply to the local authority to have LHA paid directly to themselves, bypassing the tenant.
But there has been disagreement between landlords and local authorities as to when ‘eight weeks in arrears’ begins, as landlords calculate from the beginning of the month, but local authorities follow Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance which states that ‘a person cannot be in rent arrears in respect of a period that has not yet been served’ – in other words, arrears does not begin until the end of the month.
In his judgment (I Doncaster v Coventry City Council), Mr. C Jones, the Chairman of the Coventry Appeal Tribunal, disagreed with the DWP, saying
Rent is in arrears once the contractual date for payment has passed irrespective of whether rent is due in advance or in arrear.
The decision does not set a precedent, nor is it binding upon similar cases, but landlords with tenants in receipt of LHA who are in arrears may find it strengthens their argument with local authorities.landlord buildings insurance