- How quickly should a claim be paid?
the Local Authority has received all of the information
and evidence it requires from the Claimant, it must:
Reach a decision on the claim within 14 days or as soon
as reasonably practicable after that
Notify the persons affected (Claimant and Landlord or
Letting Agent) as soon as the claim has been decided
Make payment within 14 days of the receipt of the claim
or as soon as practicably after that
the above information is taken straight from the DWP
guidance and by using the words “practicably after
that” could be taken to mean “when we get
round to it”.
we have used this information to our benefit on numerous
occasions to different Local Authorities. As soon as
you feel the claim is taking too long, (any time after
2 weeks) phone the Council and ask them why the decision
is taking too long.
Authorities have a duty to allocate sufficient resources
to their caseload so that the majority of claims are
to be processed within 14 days. The fact that some Local
Authorities fail to meet this standard is not an excuse.
Providing that all information and evidence have been
received, the majority of Local Authorities will hit
this target. We regularly get our cases completed within
the 14 day target.
Local Authority is expected to meet the target with
regard to 14 days and there are options open to Local
Authorities or Landlords in order to remedy this:
Complaints to the appropriate Ombudsman – See
www.lgo.org.uk for further details on how to complain.
Action in the county court or sheriff court to require
Local Authorities to make a payment if they have agreed
claimant is entitled.
a full decision of payment cannot be made, a payment
on account must be made within the 14 days if the following
circumstances are met:
The Claimant qualifies for and is to be paid housing
The Local Authority is unable to make a full decision
on the amount of LHA payable within 14 days of receipt
of the claim
That inability has not arisen out of the Claimant’s
failure, without good cause, to provide necessary information
or evidence (which the Local Authority has requested
in writing from the Claimant)
on account must be made by the Local Authority, based
on whatever information was available to it about the
Claimant’s circumstances, such as income etc.
payment on account is not discretionary by the Local
Authority, and must be made, providing all information
and evidence that has been asked of the Claimant has
on account is basically part payment, the remainder
of the payment will be made once a full and final decision
has been made.
Local Authorities fail to make payments on account or
only act when the Claimant’s tenancy is at risk.
These practices are unlawful and may expose the Local
Authority to judicial review or a complaint to the appropriate
is when a Local authority has carried out poor administration
and had not performed as expected. The claimant or landlords
can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. For
further guidance on how to complain, what constitutes
maladministration and recent ombudsman reports on housing
benefit etc see www.lgo.org.uk
must insist that this MUST be the last report to get
a decision made or overturned. I strongly recommend
working with your local authority and explain the situation
to the parties concerned, only after it is clear there
is no way forward should you contact the ombudsman.
Please give the local Authority every chance possible!!
There will be situations that may be 50/50 in regard
to backdating claims, or paying you direct. If the relationship
has been soured, I suspect your local authority won’t
be doing you any favours any time soon.
know from speaking to the different Councils, what information
and evidence they require in order to process the claim
as soon as possible and although they aim to process
the claim within the 14 days, inevitably it doesn’t
always happen. There has to be a fine line between gentle
complaining and threatening to take the Local Authority
to the Property Ombudsman.
tend to gently remind the Local Authority that they
have to process the claim within the specified time
limit, rather than go stomping around and threatening
further action. After all, we have to deal with the
Local Authority in relation to many other matters and
reputations can be made or lost very quickly.
One case that we were unhappy about was when a tenant
and her 3 children moved into a property around Christmas
2009. We handed in all evidence to the LA, it was a
simple case, she was on income support and qualified
for the 3 bedroom rate. Her children were 9, 10, and
12 all boys. We chased the case up after 10, 14, 16,
20, and 21 days only to be told that it had not even
been looked at. We e-mailed a letter to the head of
benefits expressing our disappointment and reminding
the LA about the 14 day deadline. We also stated we
were going to the ombudsman regarding the situation.
24 hours the case was processed and the claimant and
we had both been notified of the result and payment.
Working with your local authority is of the utmost importance
and we certainly do not recommend threatening your LA
with court action every time a claim goes over the 14
day deadline. We, and our landlords accept that when
dealing with DSS tenants a reasonable amount of time
to wait is 4-5 weeks. It is not in our interest to argue
with the LA and we do not wish to have that relationship
with them. It doesn’t hurt now and again to make
the council aware that you fully understand the system
and of what is expected of the Local Authority.
John has written a LHA E-book that is full of tips and
tricks that can be used to improve your cash flow and
understanding of Local Housing Allowance. It will be
a must for any landlord dealing in this sector.