> How to make sure your claim is completed in 14
quickly should a claim for LHA 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
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 that the 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
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. The 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 been provided. Payment on account is
basically part payment, the remainder of the payment
will be made once a full and final decision has been
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 Ombudsman
month after month, having money deposited
into your bank account, with almost no chasing
the rent and little tenant support—ever.
What an easy way to earn a living that would
be! You can have that life. I'll show you
you're serious about your property business
in 2012 and you have LHA tenants, you will
get this report, right now and read the report
This 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. I 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
wont 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
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.
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.
Within 24 hours the case was processed and we and
the claimant had both been notified of the result
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.
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 is
a must for any landlord dealing in this sector. It
can be bought HERE
month after month, having money deposited into
your bank account, with almost no chasing the
rent and little tenant support—ever. What
an easy way to earn a living that would be!
You can have that life. I'll show you how.
you're serious about your property business
in 2012 and you have LHA tenants, you will get
this report, right now and read the report today!
John Paul is a portfolio landlord in the
North East and founder of the Castledene
Group of letting agents. The business is
a member of ARLA, NALS, PI insurance and
subscribes to the Property Ombudsman Code
of Practice. Offices are located in Seaham,
Easington, Bishop Auckland, South Shields.
Halifax, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast.
Both John Paul and the The Castledene Group
have earned an enviable reputation of being
leading experts in the management and letting
of residential property to benefits claimants
in receipt of Local Housing Allowance "LHA".