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At a glance: What to do if you've been overpaid housing benefit.
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This summary covers England and Wales
For a version of this summary that covers Scotland, please click here.

What is a housing benefit overpayment?

A housing benefit overpayment is when you get more housing benefit than you should. This is usually due to:  

  • a mistake by the benefits office 
  • another benefit office making a complaint 
  • the information you gave the benefit office may have been incorrect 
  • you didn’t inform the benefit office of a change in circumstance which would have meant your benefit would reduce or stop. 

You usually have to pay the money back.  

How can I challenge an overpayment?

If you disagree that you have been paid too much, you can ask for a revision from the council. A revision is when the council looks at the decision again and decides to change it. You have one month from the overpayment decision to ask for this. You should explain why you think the decision is wrong.  

You can also appeal to the First-tier Tribunal without asking the council for a revision. Tribunals are independent. You can ask the council for a revision and appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal at the same time.  This can be a complicated process so we recommend speaking to a benefits adviser for help 

An application can be made more than one month from the overpayment decision if you have reasonable grounds. See our in-depth guide for more information.  

If you are unsure whether to ask for a revision through the council or appeal to the First-tier Tribunal then you should speak to a benefits adviser.

How do I make repayments?

If you have to repay money, there are several ways to do this. Money can be taken from: 

  • housing benefit 
  • universal credit and other benefits 
  • your wages.  

There are usually limits about how much the council can take.   

If the amount you are paying back causes you financial difficulty, ask for a reduction from the council. If they are unhelpful, consider making a complaint.  

If you do not repay the money, the council may take you to court. If you are struggling financially, they may agree to write off the overpayment, although this is rare. You will need to show the local authority your budget, evidence how you will be unable to meet your essential living costs and provide evidence of any physical or mental health problems. Use our Digital Advice Tool to check your budget.  

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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