An overpayment happens when too much Housing Benefit has been paid. In most circumstances overpayments must be paid back.
When an overpayment happens we will write to you to tell you who has to repay the money. We will also write to your landlord if the benefit was paid to them.
Overpayments usually have to be repaid by the tenant. In some circumstances we can recover the overpayment from your landlord, but only if we consider your landlord knew about the change and did not tell us. We will not recover an overpayment from your landlord if your landlord has told us about the change.
Pay your Housing Benefit Overpayment
Use our secure online payment system to make a payment to the council.
Please make sure you have the invoice number printed on your bill. This will be a 6 or 7 digit number.
How the money will be recovered
Housing Benefit overpayments can also be recovered by:
- reducing future Housing Benefit payments,
- sending a bill, or
- reducing other benefits being paid, such as Income Support.
Recovery by instalments
If you are still receiving Housing Benefit the overpayment will be recovered by making deductions from your ongoing payments. You will be notified in writing of how much will be recovered each week.
You will need to arrange to pay any rent shortfall to your landlord so that you do not get into rent arrears.
If you do not receive Housing Benefit a bill will be sent to you and you can pay this by instalments. Please contact us to make arrangements.
What to do if you are unable to repay the money
You must contact us immediately if you are unable to pay back an overpayment. Sometimes we will agree to reduce the amount that has to be paid back each week. You will need to complete a hardship form and provide details of your income and outgoings. When deciding whether to reduce the recovery amount we will consider your:
- household income / savings
- household outgoings
- overpayment balance
- likelihood of eviction
- circumstances such as disability or illness
- reason for overpayment
We aim to make a decision within two weeks. If you disagree with a hardship decision you can ask us to look at it again. We will tell you how to do this when we tell you about our decision. The recovery rate will be reviewed every year or earlier if your circumstances change.
In some very exceptional cases we will agree the overpayment does not have to be paid back. You must contact us if you think you should not have to pay back the overpayment.
If the Department for Work and Pensions are making deductions you must contact them directly if you want to ask them to reduce the recovery rate. To find out more please call 0845 850 0293.
Failure to pay
If an overpayment is not repaid we can ask your employer to make deductions from your wages without taking Court action. This is called a Direct Earnings Attachment.
We can also take legal action in the County Court. This will increase your debt by adding court costs to it.
The court can have the amount owed recovered from:
- your wages if you are working,
- your bank account,
- a charge may be put on your property, or
- you can be made bankrupt.
The court can also issue a summons for you to attend court for questioning. Failure to attend can lead to arrest.
After an agreement has been made with the County Court, you will have to apply directly to the court if you need the repayment rate to be reduced.
Appealing a decision
If you are unhappy with a decision about repaying an overpayment you should contact us straight away. You can ask for details of how the decision was made, and can appeal the decision if you think it is wrong.