July 2017

Summary of policy

The Director may pay a portion of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) income support to a third party to whom the money is owed or will be owed.

Legislative authority

Sections 13 and 21(2)3 of the ODSP Act
Section 50 of the ODSP Regulation

Summary of directive

Pay direct is recognized as a convenient way for individuals to manage their income support. Where a recipient has indicated that they would like to establish a pay direct arrangement, a portion of ODSP income support can be paid regularly to third parties, such as landlords and utility companies.

All recipient requests for the establishment of a pay direct arrangement should be approved accordingly.

Intent of policy

To encourage to use of pay direct as a convenient service for ODSP recipients.

Application of policy

Pay direct may be initiated at the request of a recipient, a member of the benefit unit, or by ODSP staff. Pay direct should be discussed with recipients and applicants as a convenient way to manage the payment of shelter costs.

All applicant or recipient requests to establish a pay direct arrangement for shelter costs should be approved unless there is a determination that a pay direct arrangement poses potential risk to the recipient, such as financial exploitation. This includes situations where the recipient has made a request due to reasons related to his/her disability.

All requests from landlords and Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) Administrators for the establishment of a pay direct arrangement should be promptly investigated by the Caseworker, and should include consultation with the recipient, especially if the individual is at risk for eviction.

In situations where a landlord verifies that actions are being taken to evict the recipient due to non-payment of rent, a pay direct arrangement should be established immediately to prevent housing destabilization while a longer term plan is developed in conjunction with the recipient.

Caseworkers are encouraged to inform individuals of the need for timely notification of changes that may impact pay direct arrangements (e.g. changes in accommodation or rental amount) in order to ensure that accurate payments continue to be made.

Criteria for implementing pay direct

In cases where a landlord or (CHPI) administrator has requested a pay direct, the following factors should be considered after discussion with the recipient:

  • The recipient has frequently made late payments of rent or utilities to the current landlord or utility company
  • Rental payments are currently in arrears; and/or
  • The recipient is at risk of being evicted or having the utilities shut off

Rather than pay direct, a recipient may also request the use of a trustee. See Directive 10.2 Trustees

All efforts should be made to obtain the recipient's co-operation and agreement before Pay direct is implemented. While pay direct may be necessary in the absence of the recipient's co-operation, this is not the preferred approach.

Pay direct may remain in effect until it is evident that the recipient is able to better manage his/her income support, and there is no longer a risk of the recipient being evicted from his/her place of residence or having his/her utilities shut off for non-payment.

In a situation where a recipient does not use the income support amount provided for shelter toward their accommodation, an overpayment is not established. Rather, pay direct or trusteeship may be options to investigate to ensure the recipient retains their lodgings.

Pay direct amount

Direct payments may be made to:

  • Public or private landlord
  • Utility company; and/or
  • Trust account pending the resolution of a landlord and tenant dispute

In a pay direct arrangement, the amount of rent to be paid is the actual rent attributable to the recipient and any members of the benefit unit. This does not include any rent charged to any person who is not a member of the benefit unit. If the amount of actual rent is higher than the shelter maximum, ODSP staff should meet with the recipient to discuss the high shelter costs and possible alternatives.

The pay direct amount must be specific to the current month (e.g. the rent amount deducted from the September cheque applies to the month of September). Under no circumstances is a pay direct amount to be applied to any arrears owing to the landlord or as an advance to the landlord. Only the payment for the current shelter cost may be made. Separate arrangements must be made by the recipient to pay any outstanding arrears to the landlord or a utility company.

The amount of the pay direct portion shall be the actual amount of the rent regardless if the amount is higher than the shelter maximum.

Where an ODSP recipient is a resident of the Local Housing Corporation (LHC), the LHC deduction should be the amount of the LHC rent charge.

When income support is less than the shelter cost (e.g. minimum cheque amount or income support reduced due to income or earnings) pay direct must be cancelled. The recipient must be advised that pay direct is being removed and that he/she must pay the shelter amount (rent or utilities) directly.

Situations of landlord-tenant disputes

Where the recipient is involved in a landlord-tenant dispute, ODSP staff can direct a portion of the income support designated for rent to a trust account pending the resolution of the dispute. The Residential Tenancies Act provides mechanisms for dealing with landlord-tenant disputes.

Termination of pay direct

Where a caseworker has approved a recipient’s request to have a pay direct arrangement terminated, as a courtesy, the landlord/third party should be advised.

The resolution of any outstanding landlord-tenant disputes or any other issues related to a third party payment, including arrears, remains between the recipient and the landlord/third party.


The decision to initiate pay direct is not appealable to the Social Benefits Tribunal. However, if the recipient disagrees with the decision and requests an internal review, the internal review should be completed.

Related directives

6.2 Shelter Calculation
10.2 Trustees
11.1 Recovery of Overpayments