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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Overpayments of housing benefit

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. 

Sometimes a tenant may move out of the property without informing you. The first you hear of it may be when the Housing Executive contacts you about an overpayment of housing benefit.

The Housing Executive will not usually pay housing benefit on two homes for one applicant. If your tenant moves out and makes a fresh application for housing benefit, the old application should be cancelled.

If you can show that the overpayment was the fault of your tenant and not your fault, you may be able to challenge the request to pay back the money. If, for example, you were overpaid because your tenant started work and did not inform the Housing Executive in time, it would be reasonable to expect the tenant to pay the Housing Executive back.

Where a tenant has paid the first month's rent upfront and housing benefit is being paid in arrears, be careful that you do not get paid twice for the final month of the tenancy. You should pay back any money which you are not entitled to receive.

On occasions, such as where a tenant leaves a private rented tenancy to take up the offer of a social house, the Housing Executive may approve an overlap payment and pay housing benefit on both properties.