Discretionary Housing Payments.

Welfare Benefits adviser Lorraine Moss today writes in the Havering Daily:

This is a benefit that is paid by your local authority for help with housing costs. Unlike other benefits, each council set their own criteria so the help available can vary from area to area. In this article we will look at the scheme in Havering. If you live in a different area, please refer to your local council’s website.

DHP’s are usually for people who have a shortfall in their rent. For example, you may be affected by bedroom tax, the benefit cap, or live in a privately rented property and your rent is above the Local Housing Allowance. They are usually given for a temporary period and once this has expired the payments will stop and you would have to re-apply. You have to be in receipt of either Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit to apply.

Rent Deposits and Rent in Advance

When people are privately renting, they are often asked to pay a deposit and one month’s rental in advance. This can be very expensive and many people cannot afford it. You can apply to Havering Council for help with these payments.

Please see below, this has been copied from Havering Council’s Discretionary Housing Payments Policy document, please see Discretionary Housing Payment Policy (havering.gov.uk)

5.0 DHPs can be made for a rent deposit or rent in advance schemes for a property that the claimant is yet to move into if they are already entitled to HB or UC at their present home. The Local Authority should be satisfied that: o the property is affordable for the tenant; and o the tenant has a valid reason to move; and o the deposit or rent in advance is reasonable.

5.1 Using DHPs for this purpose may be particularly appropriate to help existing customers move to alternative accommodation where their award of HB has been restricted following one of the welfare reforms. It may also be appropriate to consider using DHPs for this purpose where the LA rent deposit scheme is limited or exhausted.

5.2 The regulations are wide enough to permit this on the basis of a customer’s entitlement to one of the eligible benefits at their current home. The regulations do not say that the housing costs to which the DHP relates have to be housing costs relating to the property for which the benefit has been awarded.

5.3 Although Regulation 4 of the regulations places a limit on the DHP award so that it does not exceed the weekly eligible rent on the customer’s home, the limit only applies where the award is calculated as a weekly sum, for example, to meet a shortfall.

5.4 In a case where we are awarding a DHP for rent in advance or a deposit, the weekly limit does not apply as you are awarding a lump sum to meet an immediate housing need.

5.5 When awarding a DHP for a deposit, the Local Authority can include information about landlords legal obligations to protect any deposit paid in a Government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. Compliance with this requirement will help reduce the need for future help with deposits. See link: Deposit Protection schemes for private tenants for further information.

5.6 When making a DHP to assist the customer with securing a new tenancy consideration should be given to making the payment to the landlord rather than the customer.

5.7 As a lump sum payment for rent in advance is not made in respect of a period, we do not have to be satisfied that the customer is entitled to HB or UC other than at the point you make the award.

5.8 If the rent in advance is for a property outside of our area this does not prevent us from making a payment as the customer is currently in receipt of HB or UC in our LA area.

5.9 Before awarding a DHP for rent in advance or a deposit it should be established with the customer whether they: • are due to have a deposit or rent in advance in respect of their existing tenancy returned to them • have received assistance from the LA through a rent deposit guarantee scheme or similar.

5.10 Once a DHP has been made to the customer for rent in advance or a deposit.

How To Apply for A DHP

You can apply online via the following link Discretionary Housing Payments | Money advice and benefits help | The London Borough Of Havering. You will need to provide evidence to support your claim. You can go to PACS centre in Romford if you need help applying or if you are unable to visit the PACS centre, a council Officer may be able to help you complete the form over the phone. If you need help of further information, please contact Havering Council on 01708 434343.

Useful Tips When Applying for A DHP

Applying for a DHP (Source If you’re struggling with living costs – Citizens Advice)

“Contact your local council and ask how to apply for a DHP. They might want you to apply by phone or online. You can find out how to contact your local council on GOV.UK.

When you apply, be as clear as you can when you’re explaining why you need a DHP. For example, you should explain:● why you can’t afford to pay the rent● why you can’t move somewhere cheaper● if it’s causing problems for someone you look after, like a child or elderly relative● any evidence you have, like a letter from your doctor or details of debts you’re paying off

You should also tell the council if you’re waiting for them to decide whether you can get Housing Benefit.

If you apply on a paper form, it’s a good idea to keep a copy of the form for your records.”

Many of my customers need an extra room because they may look after a grandchild on a regular basis.  Others may need the spare room for carers or family members to stay to support them. 

I often speak to people who have young children that can only stay with them on a weekend and it is important for the children do have somewhere to stay. 

Some people may be living in a privately rented property that is above the local housing allowance.  They may find it difficult to move to a cheaper property because their children are settled in schools nearby or they are living close to relatives and friends that regularly support them. 

Also in some areas, one-bedroom properties can be difficult to find.

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