A common problem landlords who accept housing benefit face is the local authority asking for money back after they have overpaid. This only applies to landlords who receive the housing benefit payment direct.

When a local authority is deciding to recover an overpayment, they must first consider “is the overpayment recoverable?” which is dealt with below (regulation 100 HB regs 2006). Then, the local authority must decide “from whom is it recoverable?” The answer to which is contained in regulation 101 and detailed here.

An overpayment pursuant to an award of benefit made by official error is not recoverable under common-law. It is only recoverable under s.71 Social Security Administration Act 1992 and therefore only recoverable from the person who has misrepresented, or failed to disclose, any material fact which caused the overpayment (so if no such person, it is not recoverable). [The Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2010] UKSC 54]. This does not cover a mistake which is not in relation to the award of benefit itself for example, following an award, say, of £60 a claimant may be sent by mistake a cheque for £120 or two cheques each for £60. These remain recoverable.

What is an overpayment?

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