Backdated Housing Benefit decision over 4 years ago!

Backdated Housing Benefit decision over 4 years ago!

11:59 AM, 30th November 2018, About 3 years ago 21

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I have just received a letter from the Council dated 21 November 2018, advising me that a tenant’s Housing Benefit claim has been terminated with effect from 25 April 2014 – Yes, that’s right, 4 years 7 months ago!!!!!

How can it possibly take the Council 4 years 7 months to make a decision?

Thankfully I evicted the tenant a long time ago, otherwise I guess the Council would want back 4 years 7 month’s worth of Housing Benefit to be repaid. – With Council actions like this, it is no wonder that very few landlords will even consider letter to tenants on benefits!

Still, looking on the bright side, they have given me the former tenants new address (in breach of GDPR, DPA 1998, confidentiality, and their own policies)!

Have any other landlords had backdated Housing Benefit decisions going back longer than this?

Robert



Comments

by Mike

11:55 AM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

Stand up for your rights and shout and scream, rally and protest until you are heard. Do nothing then expect more abuse.

by Jack Craven

15:00 PM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

I would be very worried as it sounds to me as though the tenant was still claiming benefit for the property unbeknown to the landlord.

by bean

15:21 PM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

I take it we are dealing with direct HB payments to Landlords.
The HB is only able to be clawed back if the Landlord accepted directly from the L.Auth the HB due to the Tenant.
There has to be a contractual relationship between the Landlord and L.Auth.
The Landlord would then have to recover the clawback from the Tenant.
It would appear that there is no legal reason why the L.Auth could not recover the HB from the Tenant.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

16:56 PM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

Speaking of Tax-payers money, and reading Brokenballs' proud exclamation of over 400,000 first time buyers helped by Section 24 landlords ( on, No, sorry, that's what he meant to say - but said, by Help to Buy. )

Call me a cynic, or just plain speaking - whichever you prefer.

by Kate Mellor

22:51 PM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

I had two tenants in the same block get done for over-claiming in short succession a few years back (pretty sure one was caught & grassed the other up), but fortunately the council pursued the tenants directly and didn’t try to claw back the payments from us as direct recipients. I felt extremely relieved as at the time I’d heard horror stories from other landlords on here in different areas who had had their council clawing back payments. I wouldn’t take a housing benefit tenant now without a guarantor. Not for anything.

I have a few long-termers without guarantors. Four are great, but two I 100% do not trust to pay once UC kicks in fully in our area. They are 100% being evicted in the next 12 months. I feel pretty guilty about this to be honest, but I know that once they are receiving direct payments that is the last rent we will see.

Basically between impending UC horrors and HB clawbacks from councils for tenants thieving government funds its a real disincentive to landlords to pad out the social housing gap! 😳

by bean

22:59 PM, 3rd December 2018, About 3 years ago

There are some really deserving HB Tenants. However i would rather reduce the rent and take a private Tenant.
I will never get involved with the L.Auth again.
More hassle than its worth.
The only exception is where the L.Auth is the Tenant.

by Bill irvine

20:43 PM, 4th December 2018, About 3 years ago

Hi Robert
As an experienced landlord, providing accommodation to benefit reliant tenants you should never be surprised by Council decisions, although, I have to say, yours is a bit unusual, given your tenant vacated in 2015 when presumably payment to you ceased.
Clearly, it looks like HB has continued to be paid to your ex tenant until a decision was taken recently to cancel retrospectively. The retrospective effect also suggests an overpayment has occurred. But, as he's no longer your tenant, and HB stopped in 2015, you shouldn't lose sleep.
Going back nearly 5 years is not a common thing, but neither is it unique. If a tenant claims HB they, on completion, make a statement that the information provided is accurate and that they'll notify the council of any changes material to their claim, which includes changes to income, capital, household make-up, new address etc.If they fail to comply with that obligation they'll be expected to pay back any overpayment which may arise. Where payment is made to the landlord, under one or more of the "safeguarding" provisions, they also become similarly obligated to notify the council of any factor, they could reasonably have known, might affect the award of HB. In their case, the tenant's temporary (in prison, hospital, residential home etc) or continued absence from the address is something that should be reported. Again, failure to report could result in the landlord being equally held culpable.
I dealt with a case three years ago, where the council, one of the London Boroughs, revised a decision, going back 18 years, creating a £76.6K overpayment with a demand that it should be paid in 7 days. I represented the tenant, whose landlord was her two sons. The Council knew of their relationship but decided, because she couldn't produce a copy of her original AST and evidence of rent payments, through a bank account, direct to her sons, the tenancy was non-commercial and contrived to abuse the HB scheme. The Council initially reduced her overpayment by £66K after a few emails from me and later a First-tier Judge chased the Council for the other £11K.
I regularly read comments on landlord blogs, as to the alleged threat, posed by receiving LHA direct. Much of what is claimed is untrue and in those cases where councils do pursue recovery from landlords, appeals invariably succeed.
Bill Irvine

by Mike

1:01 AM, 5th December 2018, About 3 years ago

Talking of tax payers money, should the BTL landlords be given any relief on their interest payments of their loans and mortgages from the public pot? (S24) because that is what it is if you call it tax payers money.
This is why I said there is no such thing as a public pot or tax payers money, once you have paid your taxes, its no longer your money, it is the Governments funding or budget and we have no say how they can or should spend that money. How would you feel if you found out that it was your money that killed innocent children in war torn countries, as your money was used to buy weapons and other military hardware to bomb enemy where innocent children also died in collateral damage, let that blame lie on our Government and not on us the tax payers, so we can have clean conscious.
If you employ staff, and they use their wages to buy a weapon that kills someone, would you then be responsible for the killing? So no such thing as tax payers money or public funds!
It is council budget, they are given this money to do things for us, provide us with service and help those who are in difficult situation, if a HB tenant claimed unlawfully and you were paid their HB directly, you should not have to pay it back, I would call that a theft and illicit money, no better than prostitution, so don't let the LA act as desperate frustrated prostitutes, that is what they are if they insist upon clawback. Bloody prostitutes!

by Appalled Landlord

9:26 AM, 5th December 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike at 05/12/2018 - 01:01
You are confused. Deducting costs like mortgage interest from receipts is not receiving money from the “public pot”, it is the normal way to calculate taxable profit, under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles which are used by every enterprise in the country.

Disallowing the interest, thus creating fictitious profit, means we will be contributing tax to the public pot at higher rates than any other type of enterprise in the country.

by Mike

12:59 PM, 5th December 2018, About 3 years ago

Appalled landlord, my apologies, I admit I am no good at the accounting world, you may well be right, and I think it is the way we perceive things differently, from many different angles, indeed the Government allows tax relief on the cost of borrowing in most businesses and enterprises, which gets offset against their profits and so most enterprises do not have to pay tax on cost of borrowing, yet BTL landlords have to pay tax on the cost of their borrowing which is now being phased out completely over a few years, indeed totally unfair and another heavy blow to landlords. We landlords are getting bashed left right center and we are just taking one after another of these punches, one day we will take the last blow and fall forever, we can only take so much, does anyone think it can go on like this, no I don't think so, it is at a breaking point now.
So what do you do then, just keep taking more and more of these nasty punches and insults until we give up and sell up and go, may be it is a cunning plot by our Government, to get rid of all or most weak landlords and bring house prices down as more landlords give up and sell up, so more people can buy their own homes cheaper. I have a feeling that is what they are intending to achieve when landlords are heavily burdened with more and more legislation.

Either give up, or fight back, you have two choices. But remember we are up against a massive well equipped army !


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