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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Overpayments of benefit to landlords

Advice for landlords in Northern Ireland

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 choose option 5. 

You may have to pay back Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if your tenant was not entitled to this money. 

If this happens, ask the agency to give you

  • a written statement of reasons explaining why and how the overpayment occurred, 
  • an explanation of why you, rather than the tenant, are responsible for repaying the money
  • citations for any legislation they are relying on in making their decision
  • details of any mandatory or discretionary processes to challenge this decision.

Overpayments of Housing Benefit

The Housing Executive (NIHE) can ask you to pay back Housing Benefit if

  • the money was paid to you, and
  • the tenant was not entitled to it, and
  • the overpayment was your fault, or
  • the overpayment was a mistake by NIHE but you should have realised you had been overpaid.

NIHE may ask you to repay the money if they don't know why the overpayment happened, but the money went to you. In this case, they can also choose to make the tenant pay the money back. 

Not all overpayments of Housing Benefit are recoverable. You may be able to argue that you don't have to return the money. 

Contact Landlord Advice NI if you have to pay back Housing Benefit to NIHE. 

Overpayments of Universal Credit

All overpayments of Universal Credit are recoverable. The Department will claim the money back even if their mistake caused the overpayment.

In most cases, they will recover the money from the person it was paid to. That could be the tenant, the agent or you, the landlord. 

The Department should recover the money from the tenant if

the money was paid to you, but the overpayment happened because:

  • the tenant failed to tell the Department something affecting their claim, or
  • the tenant gave false or inaccurate information when claiming.

Contact Landlord Advice NI if you have questions about benefit overpayments.

Need help solving a problem?

You should always get advice if you are having problems with a tenancy. You can contact Landlord Advice for advice on your rights. Housing Rights can also provide a mediation service if you and your tenant are having problems and need an independent person to help resolve these.