Some private tenants are entitled to Housing Benefit from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). Housing Benefit is usually for rent but may also include a rates element. Depending on the tenant's circumstances, they may be entitled to have some or all of the rates paid by NIHE. When the tenant completes their Housing Benefit claim form, they choose where to have their benefit paid. It can be paid directly to the tenant, to the landlord, or in the case of rates it can also be paid directly to Land & Property Services (LPS). ). Housing benefit does not cover any service charges or heating costs.
As a landlord, it’s important to understand how the Housing Benefit system works and what your tenants may be entitled to. Find Housing Benefit information for landlords on the Housing Advice NI website.
If you believe that your tenant may be entitled to Housing Benefit you must liaise directly with NIHE. You can read further information on Housing benefit on the NIHE website.
What does this mean for landlords' rates?
LPS would advise landlords to pay their rates in full by the date specified on their bill. It would also advise that the landlord asks NIHE to make any Housing Benefit payments directly to themselves rather than the tenant or LPS.
In this way landlords will have discharged their liability under the Rates Order and may avoid recovery action being taken against them. LPS offers allowances to landlords who pay their rates in full by the date specified on the bills. For more information see the pages in this guide:
- 7.5 per cent allowance on rates for rental properties
- 12.5 per cent allowance on rates for rental properties
There can be a delay in processing claims for Housing Benefit. If this delay means that your rates are not paid by the due date specified on your bill, you will not be entitled to your allowance and LPS may start recovery action against you to ensure that the rates are paid.