Housing Benefit overpayments

Overpayments occur when we pay Housing Benefit you are not entitled to.

We may have to work out the amount of your benefit again because of a change or because we've found we've made a mistake. If your benefit goes down and we've already paid you the higher amount there will be an overpayment. The reasons for overpayments could be:

How we can reduce your overpayment

If you did not tell us of a change in your circumstances and we overpay you, we can look back over the period of the overpayment and work out the amount of benefit you would have got had we known about your circumstances.

To do this, you need to give us proof of your income and savings for the period the overpayment occurred. You normally need to provide this proof within one month of the letter telling you about the overpayment.  We can then work out the amount you would have got during this period. 

If you cannot provide this proof, the whole overpayment will remain recoverable.

Can you ask me for the money back?

We must firstly decide if the overpayment is 'recoverable'. Most overpayments are recoverable, regardless of the cause of the overpayment. The only exceptions to this are some official errors. We will treat an overpayment as recoverable if:

We will not treat an overpayment as recoverable if it's our fault and you could not have realised we were paying you too much benefit. We will always write to you if you tell us about a change in your circumstances.  You must contact us if you do not get a letter.

We will recover an overpayment if you continued to receive benefit at the same rate as before the change in your circumstances and you cannot show you made reasonable attempts to contact us to find out the effect on your benefit.

If we decide an overpayment is recoverable, we must then decide if we are going to recover it. We will look at every overpayment on an individual basis to decide if it is appropriate to recover it.  The types of things we consider are the person’s age, any disability, or hardship we may cause.

Who will you recover the overpaid Housing Benefit from?

We will usually seek payment from the person we feel is most responsible. We can recover overpaid benefit from the following people:

If we decide the tenant caused the overpayment and the landlord couldn't have known about it, we would recover from the tenant. But we have a responsibility to recover this money and, if necessary, we will ask the person who is more likely to be able to repay us. We will never ask a landlord or agent to repay benefit when they tell us about a fraudulent act by the claimant and an overpayment results, unless the landlord or agent contributed or colluded with the claimant in a fraudulent act.

We will decide who to recover the overpaid benefit from and we will write to them with our decision. They can appeal against our decision.