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Housing benefit


An overpayment is an amount of benefit/reduction which has been paid to you that you were not entitled to receive.

Why do overpayments happen?

  • we have been given the wrong information
  • you haven't told us something that we needed to know about
  • there has been a delay or you haven't told us about a change

We might have to work out the amount of your benefit again because of this or because we've found we've made a mistake. When this happens and you should to be getting less benefit that what we have already given you, there will be an overpayment.

This can also happen if there has been a delay in the time it takes from you telling us and us dealing with it. Even if you tell us straightaway and we deal with it quickly, there might still be an overpayment.

Will you tell me I've been overpaid?

We will send you a letter letting you know how much you have been overpaid and how we are going to recover it.

Can you ask me for the money back?

We can ask for the money back if the Housing Benefit overpayment:

  • was your fault
  • it was our fault but you should have realised you were being overpaid.

We can't ask for it back if it's our fault and you couldn't have realised you were getting too much.

If you were paid too much Council Tax Reduction this is recoverable in full regardless of who was at fault.

How do you get the money back?

  • by adding it to your Council Tax bill
  • weekly deductions from your Housing Benefit
  • money that we owe you
  • payment arrangements
  • from your landlord

If you've been given too much Council Tax Reduction we usually add this to your remaining instalments. You will get a new bill showing the increase.

For Housing Benefit, if you're still on benefit, we can take money out of each week's benefit to recover the overpayments, although there are legal limits to how much we can take. If the amount we take causes you a problem, please tell us. We might be able to change it.

If you rent from a housing association and your rent account is in credit, we may take this off the account but we won't put your account into arrears. If we owe you benefit for another period, we can hold on to the money and use it to repay your overpayment. This is called 'offsetting'. If we've been paying your landlord we may ask them to repay the money.

Other ways we can get the money back

We can ask:

  • the Department for Work and Pensions to take money out of your social security benefits
  • another council to take money out of any Housing Benefit they are paying you
  • your employer to take money out of your earnings, this is called a Direct Earnings Attachment

Arrange to repay in instalments

If you find it difficult to repay in a single payment, it may be possible to set this up in instalments.

Set up a repayment arrangement

What if there's an overpayment and you've been paying my landlord?

If you're the tenant of a private landlord or a housing association, we may have been paying your rent allowance direct to them. In these cases we could ask you to pay us back, as your landlord might not have known you have had a change. However we could ask your landlord because they've received the money.

We will decide and tell you our decision. You do have a right to appeal if you disagree with our decision. If you're the landlord you also have a right to appeal.

We do have a responsibility to the public to recover overpayments and if necessary, we will ask the person who is more likely to be able to repay us.