What is an overpayment?
An overpayment is when benefit has been paid to someone but they are not entitled to receive it.
Overpayments that are caused by 'official error' cannot be recovered, unless it was reasonable for the tenant or landlord to have known that they were being overpaid.
Overpayments can be recovered from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.
How are overpayments recovered?
- If Housing Benefit is still in payment; it is likely that we will recover any overpayment by reducing the amount of benefit you receive each week. Using the amount reduced from your benefit to reduce the outstanding overpayment. You must then make up the difference to your Landlord to avoid accumulating rent arrears.
- If Housing Benefit is no longer in payment; it is likely that we will issue the person from whom we are seeking recovery with an invoice for the overpaid amount. An arrangement should then be made with our recovery department to pay back the overpaid amount.
- If Housing Benefit payments have been made to the Landlord; we may ask the Landlord to repay the amount in certain circumstances.
- If you are on Social Security benefits; we can ask the Department for Work and Pensions to make deductions from your benefit to recover the overpayment.
- If you have vacated our area; we can ask your new Local Authority to recover the overpayment from your Housing Benefit that is paid by them.
The decision on how we choose to recover the overpayment is at our discretion and can not be appealed. If an invoice remains unpaid, or someone does not keep to an arrangement to repay the debt, over time this will lead to further action being taken. This may include pursuing the debt in the County Court.
What if I cannot afford the recovery rate being taken?
In order to reach a decision, to reduce the amount we take, we may ask for more information.