Working with Housing Benefit colleagues
54. Where a rent payable order is made, Housing Benefit ( HB) administrators within the authority need to know in order to be able to suspend any HB, since HB is not payable while the tenant has no legal liability for rent. HB colleagues should be told that an order is being sought and should be advised immediately when an order is made by the sheriff as that is the date when the order has effect. Good communication will minimise problems over the recovery of payments that are already in the system when the order is made.
55. When a rent payable order is suspended, HB colleagues should be similarly notified so that they can resume any HB with effect from the date that the tenant again becomes liable for rent.
56. If the landlord appeals against a rent payable order, that does not affect the operation of the order in the meantime. If the appeal is successful, the sheriff may order that the rent for the period since the order took effect should be paid, but only if the landlord notified the tenant of the appeal, allowing the tenant to make provision for payment of back-rent should the appeal be successful. If the tenant was in receipt of HB and back-rent is payable in this way, HB colleagues will make a back-payment.
57. If a Management Control Order is made, any HB continues to be paid but to the local authority instead of the landlord. DWP have made regulations which provide that the HB shall continue to be in the form of a rent allowance even though the local authority is carrying out the landlord role. This avoids complications that would ensue if the HB were treated as a rent rebate in the same way as HB payable for council houses.
58. DWP is issuing guidance to HB administrators on the impact of the landlord provisions in the 2004 Act and the effect of the regulations they have made. There may be other issues that arise in unusual circumstances which it is neither feasible nor sensible to anticipate in general regulations.