Housing benefit - overpayments
Overpayments of housing benefit can arise for a number of reasons. The first thing we will do is to decide whether the overpayment is "recoverable" or not.
All overpayments of housing benefit are "recoverable" unless:
- the overpayment was caused by an official error (for example, an error by the DWP or the council)
- the person entitled to the benefit didn't contribute to the error in any way
- the person entitled to the benefit could not reasonably have been expected to know that their benefit was too much
We can recover all overpayments that are "recoverable".
In most cases a recoverable overpayment can be recovered from the person to whom it was paid or from the claimant.
How to prevent overpayments
Overpayments can cause problems for tenants, landlords, and the council. It is always better to prevent them happening in the first place. Many overpayments occur because of a change in the tenant's circumstances that we are not told about at the time. The tenant has a legal obligation to report such changes to the council's benefits team.
Relevant changes would include:
- an end of liability to pay rent
- change of address
- period of absence from home
- changes in family income, including changes in benefits
- changes in the number or status of dependants, for example a child leaves school, or the birth of a baby
- changes in the number or status of a non-dependant, for example the tenant's adult daughter moves into the accommodation, or stops being a student and starts work
- changes in status, e.g. partner moves in, or leaves