DWP Guidelines revised re direct payments to landlords

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    DWP Guidelines revised re direct payments to landlords

    One further step taken in the right direction.

    The DWP issued a revised Guidance Manual in December 09, and in which it very sensibly revised the advice to Local Authorities regarding the so-called 8-week rule.

    Rent arrears is now calculated the same way we landlords do - which is if rent is paid monthly, and a tenant misses first one month, and then another, the day after the second month is missed, the rent becomes 2 months in arrears (or unpaid for the purposes of S8). For weekly rent, its day after the 8th payment is due.

    Up to now, the LA time period calculation had this time-served thing where the full 8 weeks or 2 months had to have elapsed. However, thanks to a ruling last October by a Tribunal Judge, the DWP has been forced to back down. And not too soon.

    Hopefully, the level of arrears that LLs end up with due to the 8-week rule will reduce.

    I'm sure the LAs will not publicise this, and many will resist or infer that nothing has changed. Its up to us to make sure we have the info to counteract that. Turning the ship of Local authority red tape around will take some effort, but is not impossible.

    For those who have the time, read the revised Guidance Manual, for those don't, there's a summary here or just aim for Section 4.40 -4.42 on Page 46 of the full report.

    #2
    Good. DWP is now recognising not only that its previous attitude was incorrect at law but also that LZ members' analysis was correct.
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

    Comment


      #3
      Duty to follow decisions of the courts and upper tribunals

      The tribunal has a duty to follow past decisions of the courts and upper tribunals. In this case, we are only reflecting on the outcome of a first-tier tribunal.

      Also, the DWP advice is merely guidance and is not a statement of law.

      For this reason, I must inform/remind visitors to this forum that it may be possible for payments to be issued to the landlord prior to the accumulation of eight weeks arrears.

      For working age claimants (those under sixty) please refer to Regulations 95 and 96 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006.

      For pension age claimants (those sixty and over) refer to Regulations 76 and 77 of the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006.
      Michael Clayton

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Michael (Topic Expert) View Post
        Also, the DWP advice is merely guidance and is not a statement of law.
        If that is the case, why do HB officers regularly refer to the Guidance and not the law. "its what the government tells us to do" is so often quoted, I've learnt to recognise when its the next statement coming out of some HB officer's mouth!!

        I've quoted the law to them, line by line, highlighted the correct sections, but get the "time served" nonsense thrown back at me as if it was gospel.

        And in any event, the Law itself refers to the liability to pay rent. Liability to pay rent is in advance, not in arrears!! Law is correct, guidance was not. Guidance now follows Law.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Michael (Topic Expert) View Post
          For this reason, I must inform/remind visitors to this forum that it may be possible for payments to be issued to the landlord prior to the accumulation of eight weeks arrears.
          That's theory. Practice is most definitely not. And the HB offices never ever entertain payment to LL until the 8 weeks time has been served.

          I have instances where I've alerted them after the first payment is missed, and 6 weeks down the line, 7 weeks down the line. The usual answer is "we can't do anything until they are 8 weeks in arrears". Which you will admit is what the Guidance manual tells them to do!!

          I even had a case where 10 weeks down the line, the HB office still paid the money to the T because that was their first payment and the T had to be given a chance to prove they were responsible!! This, inspite of my weekly calls and alerts. Needless to say, the T was not responsible and didn't pay it to me. The same LA then turned round and said there was nothing they could do. Having carried out their social experiment at my expense, I then proved conclusively there was something they could do. They admitted their mistake and gave me compensation for the full amount that had been paid to the T!!
          Last edited by havensRus; 06-01-2010, 19:49 PM. Reason: add info.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Michael (Topic Expert) View Post
            For this reason, I must inform/remind visitors to this forum that it may be possible for payments to be issued to the landlord prior to the accumulation of eight weeks arrears.
            'May' being the operative word. In practise, in my experience (and havensRus's above), this does not happen (or if it does, very rarely).

            One case, was where the tenant was 4 weeks in rental arrears, the HB officer said they couldn't do anything as they're hands were tied; same tenancy at 8 weeks rental arrears, another HB officer said they had to give the tenant 4 weeks, to provide proof of rental payments to LL - i.e. leaving LL with 12 weeks rental arrears before any decision on whether direct HB/LHA payments to LL could be made.

            It doesn't help matters if HB officer's (like the many that I've spoken to) have a poor working knowledge of HB Reg.'s. The current system is clearly farcical.
            The information in my posts is provided 'as is'. This is not intended to be legal advice. Legal or other professional advice should be sought before acting or relying on this information or any part of it. I will not be held responsible for loss or damage arising from errors in the information or the way in which a person uses the information on this . For more information on your query use the '' link at the top of this page. Agreements, Forms & Notices can be found .

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by havensRus View Post
              That's theory. Practice is most definitely not. And the HB offices never ever entertain payment to LL until the 8 weeks time has been served.
              I have posted previously to the effect that Blackpool BC will consider paying direct to LL after just 2 weeks.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                I have posted previously to the effect that Blackpool BC will consider paying direct to LL after just 2 weeks.
                and does it actually get paid? and when? If so, then its a welcome rarity in local government circles!!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by havensRus View Post
                  and does it actually get paid? and when? If so, then its a welcome rarity in local government circles!!
                  Well... LL advises council, council suspends payment to T & writes to tenant to verify LL claim, if T doesn't respond within 7 days then payments to LL begin.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                    Well... LL advises council, council suspends payment to T & writes to tenant to verify LL claim, if T doesn't respond within 7 days then payments to LL begin.
                    7 days!! that must be a record. The LAs in the areas I deal with give the T 28 days and will not budge, claiming its what they have to do (this Guidelines thing again!!). And even after that, it'll take another 2-4 weeks to see any payment.

                    Well done Blackpool BC - well done indeed. Wish the others would follow your example.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Snorkerz View Post
                      Well... LL advises council, council suspends payment to T & writes to tenant to verify LL claim, if T doesn't respond within 7 days then payments to LL begin.
                      Sounds surprisingly efficient. Is this your experience or landlord(s) that you know of?

                      Housing Benefit Rent Arrears : How to get direct payment more quickly
                      "Local authorities should now follow the DWP Guidance and start to make direct payments to the landlord, without waiting for the full 8 weeks.
                      Landlords in this situation should now write to their local authorities requesting direct payment. If the local authority wrongly fails to pay then compensation should be payable."
                      The information in my posts is provided 'as is'. This is not intended to be legal advice. Legal or other professional advice should be sought before acting or relying on this information or any part of it. I will not be held responsible for loss or damage arising from errors in the information or the way in which a person uses the information on this . For more information on your query use the '' link at the top of this page. Agreements, Forms & Notices can be found .

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by tom999 View Post
                        Housing Benefit Rent Arrears : How to get direct payment more quickly
                        "Local authorities should now follow the DWP Guidance and start to make direct payments to the landlord, without waiting for the full 8 weeks.
                        Landlords in this situation should now write to their local authorities requesting direct payment. If the local authority wrongly fails to pay then compensation should be payable."
                        "should"... and what actually happens are two different things. The only way the HB staff will do any such thing is if their Manager informs them of the change and empowers them to, or if the LL knows which section of the Guidance Manual to quote to them.

                        Shame, at the mo, I don't have any T in that situation, so can't test it out ...

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by tom999 View Post
                          Sounds surprisingly efficient. Is this your experience or landlord(s) that you know of?
                          Well neither really - After having tenant leave on a s21 owing 7 weeks rent, I phoned the LHA people to make sure the Ts had stopped claiming at my property (they hadn't). Chatting with the Housing Benefit person and having a friendly moan about Ts not paying LHA to landlords, he said that the above was their process and that as soon as any rent is owing I should notify the council so they are ready to deal with matters as soon as 2 weeks is unpaid. (It deffo was 2 weeks, not months).

                          He also offered to check if there was any LHA left over - ie if the T had been claiming £80 pw for a room and was entitled to £90 the council would have been willing to pay the difference to me to contribute to the unpaid rent. Didn't apply in my case.

                          Whenever I have contacted them, they have always been very co-operative with regard to housing benefit and the councils department covering private rented housing seem very pro-active too.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            LHA Guidance Update

                            HavensRus started this thread by helpfully pointing out the recent update of the LHA guidance. The document is directed at LA's and was sent out as a DWP circular to all UK based councils, and is designed to ensure councils apply the new 'guidance' universally. The guidance is simply that and no substitute for the 2006 Regulations (see Michael Clayton's posts). Nevertheless, any landlord experiencing difficulties, obtaining direct payments, should use the info to diligently pursueeach and every case of non compliance. Don't waste time disputing the problem with clerks. Send your e-mail/letter to Director of Finance or Head of Revenues, focusing on salient points.

                            In LHA cases, Landlords should be routinely asking councils to:
                            a) Make the first payment of HB by cheque, in their name, but posted to HB tenant thus ensuring public funds are not misused;
                            b) If your tenant(s) fall into any of the 'vulnerable' categories listed in the guidance -submit a letter setting out your explanation, referring to particular paragraphs, of how they may qualify; try and obtain the tenant's consent to have payments made direct; and specifically ask for payment for up to 8 weeks (period allowed for LA to make decision);
                            c) In situations where tenant runs up 8 weeks or more arrears or has already had arrears, and those are being paid to you by direct deduction from his/her income Support/Job seekers demand payment direct.

                            Pursue your rights vigourously and put a stop to any malpractice.

                            Good luck!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              But is it the same in Lanarkshire/Scotland as in E&W?
                              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                              Comment

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