A Guide to Overpayments
What is an overpayment?
An overpayment of housing benefit occurs when you are paid benefit to which you are not entitled. For example, if you do not report a change of circumstances to us at the time it happens, we might continue paying you too much benefit until we know about the change.
How will I know if I have got an overpayment?
We will write to tell you that you have been overpaid. In the letter you receive from us we will give you full details of the overpayment. We will tell you:
- The reason for the overpayment
- The dates the overpayment relates to
- How much the overpayment is
- What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
What if I do not agree with the overpayment?
If you disagree with our decision that you have been overpaid, you have the right to appeal against the decision. Your must make your appeal in writing within one month of the date on the letter we send you.
How will the overpayment be recovered?
If you are still getting housing benefit we will recover the overpayment by reducing the amount of benefit which we give you each week until the overpayment is recovered. The government sets the amount by which we can reduce your benefit and this amount changes every year. The amount is higher if your overpayment is classed as fraudulent. A letter will be sent to you detailing how much we are recovering.
If you are no longer getting housing benefit we will send you an invoice for you to pay.
If you are a private tenant and we were paying your benefit to your landlord we may, in certain circumstances ask your landlord to repay the overpayment.
If you have been overpaid council tax support we will send you a new council tax bill that will include your overpayment of council tax benefit.
How can I pay the invoice I have received?
What if I cannot afford to repay the overpayment in one go?
We can make an arrangement for you to repay the overpayment by instalments.
If you want to make an agreement, you should decide how much you can pay and telephone us on 01639 686839 to discuss the agreement.
You can also write to us with your offer of repayment. If your offer is reasonable we may be able to agree the repayments immediately. However, if we cannot, we will ask you to complete an income and expenditure form so that we can decide if we can accept your proposal.
What happens if I do not repay the overpayment?
If you do not repay the overpayment, we can apply to the County Court for an order against you. This will allow us:
- To use an attachment of earnings.
- To use bailiffs to collect the overpayment.
- To put a charging order on your house.
If we do have to apply for a County Court Order, we will add costs to your overpayment and you will have to pay these costs as well as the original overpayment.
I am a landlord & you have paid too much benefit to one of my tenants
We can recover the overpayment by making a deduction from any housing benefit which your tenant is still entitled to, even if we are paying that benefit direct to you. It is the tenant’s responsibility to pay you the full amount of rent.
If we have been paying the benefit direct to you and the tenant’s benefit has ceased, we will normally send you an invoice for the amount of the overpayment. However, in certain circumstances we can recover the overpayment by making a deduction from the housing benefit which we pay to you for your other tenants.
If we are going to recover the overpayment from housing benefit paid to you, we will write to tell you.