6 Months to assess HB claimants rent increase and still no answer!Make Text Bigger
Can anyone with a good knowledge of the housing benefits system give me some insight and information of the redress available to me following my attempt to increase the rent of a housing benefits tenant. I am still awaiting a decision on the increase almost six months later!
In my previous experience LHA’s will deal with these increases as and when they occur and back-pay for any delay in assessing and paying increases, however one tenant of a number who I wrote to in October with rent increases still has not had his housing benefits adjusted despite the new rent being below the maximum rate allowable for their situation and the other three all being adjusted.
As mentioned, in October I wrote to the LHA and the four separate affected tenants giving notice of rent increases to commence in December. I served the appropriate form of notice and sent copies of everything to the LHA (we are in receipt of direct payments for these tenants). I also provided extra copies and stamped addressed envelopes for the tenants to also send the information to the LHA as I was unsure whether they would need to hear it directly from the claimant.
On the appointed increase date (allowing for the fact that rent is paid in arrears by the LHA) none of the increases had been actioned. The one reliable tenant of the four who has any ability to chase up these things for himself chased this up with housing and was told that nothing had been received. He did not let them get away with this and explained that they’d had it twice, and also been sent a further letter notifying them that the increases had not been actioned along with further copies of the original documents. They later found it sitting in someone’s tray, not dealt with.
He was then told it would be approximately ten days before he would hear anything. Fast forward two weeks and another phone call by the tenant, he is told that he has to wait until the next review of his case and that would be another ten days, but in any case they could not back-date the claim. Despite the fact that he’d previously had a review since receiving the increase details but not having the information considered as it was sitting in someone’s tray.
He’s made at least four calls and each time been given a ten-day timescale and I’ve received numerous automated letters stating his benefits have been assessed and giving the exact rate as he has been receiving for years.
In the meantime, one of the other three tenants new rate was adjusted without my intervention (I believe she has a social-worker however who probably actioned things on her behalf thank goodness as I was dreading having to get some action from her myself) and the remaining two again had a payment made of the old amount not adjusted for the increase. I then phoned the LHA myself to try and prompt some action and got the usual ‘we can’t discuss any claims without the claimant’s permission’ to which I said, well you have my letters and my follow up letters can you at least confirm receipt and perhaps action them? ‘We can’t action someone’s claim quicker just because you call and ask’, so I said, well surely you have time guidelines by which you must respond to these things and October to March is probably outside these timescales is it not? Perhaps you could highlight this fact and that may help?’ Dead air…no answer at all…(silent scream of frustration)!
Low and behold I received the next payment along with the required rent increases for these two tenants – Hallelujah! But still no increase for the poor devil who’s been doing all the chasing for his!
I understand there are different types of housing benefits claimants and I strongly suspect due to the length of his claim that this tenant’s claim is dealt with differently from those that I am used to, but I don’t have any real understanding of how that works. He has been on benefits for a long time and has health problems which prevent him working. His claim appears to be reassessed at set intervals and no back-payment is possible.
Can anyone with a better understanding of the different types of benefits and the rules and ways of assessing them give me some insight and tell me if I have any redress for this horrifically slow action? It is almost April and I first notified them in October of the increase yet they have still not made an assessment of the claim almost six months later. He was today told it would be another ten days!
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