Can the Housing Benefit Office Do This?

by Readers Question

16:34 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

Can the Housing Benefit Office Do This?

Make Text Bigger
Can the Housing Benefit Office Do This?

Readers QuestionsI have a property which I rent to my son who is on Housing Benefit.

He has several medical problems mainly brought on by the use of drugs in the past.

I had two other properties which I had let out before to claimants that were on Housing Benefit. One of which was sold and the other is now in the process of being sold.

When my son applied for Housing Benefit, all the info relative to him being my son, was declared.

To keep him on the path to recovery, I have subsidised him for food and also to purchase materials for work that needs to be done on the property.

The Housing Benefit office asked for three months of my bank statements which show some cash payments from mine to his bank.

The Housing Benefit office are now saying “I have cancelled benefit as you have supplied us with bank statements for the account that we pay Housing Benefit into, these statements reflect Housing Benefitpayments being issued and then payments being transferred to your son’s account”

The Benefits office are claiming the whole of the amount for the time that he has been there which amounts to £3587.49.

Yes, I support my son, if I didn’t, he would be on the streets and a far greater burden to the tax payer.

I cannot have him living at home as my husband is disabled and we do not have the room.

What do I do now, do I give him notice to quit?

Are they able to do this or is there anything I can do? Some advice needed please.

My name is Annette Cranstoun – I have delved into the letting property market and found it more trouble than it’s worth. At one point I had three properties let out. One of them was no trouble at all with a very good tenant, albeit on Housing Benefit. The other 2, there was always a problem catching up with the rent arrears and to get them moved on was very costly.

Thanks in advance for your comments/assistance.


Share this article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Comments

Adam Zeeblebum

18:08 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

Hi Annette

Has the Housing Benefits service put its decision in writing to you?

I'm wondering what other reasons they have given. They have stated, "I have cancelled benefit as you have supplied us with bank statements for the account that we pay Housing Benefit into, these statements reflect Housing Benefitpayments being issued and then payments being transferred to your son’s account," which I'm guessing is a statement of fact and one which you wouldn't disagree with?

But what conclusions have they drawn from that? Have they said?

And if you have had a letter, is there anything in it which explains any sort of review or appeal process?

Also, has your son had a letter explaining why his claim has been cancelled? And was there any information in that letter about a review or appeal process?

Ben Reeve-Lewis

19:12 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

Annette I feel for you. Benefits are not my forte. The housing benefit book by Zebedee dwarves even the housing law books but I am guessing that HB are taking the view that the money you have been putting into your son's account is being considered some form of undeclared income.
Benefits of any kind, by their very definition, mean that the applicant has no (or little) income thats why they get it. Dont confuse you decent intentions with benefit rules, or even the understandable argument that you are ultimately saving the state money. You are up against faceless, impartial calculations.
HB is a public funded money and it is allocated to people in a strict set of circumstances. Helping out as you are doing would be deemed to be in the same camp as cash in hand work. The logic being, if they are getting extra, undeclraed income they dont qualify for HB.
On the evcition issue. There is an argument that because it was a family arrangmenet there was no intention to create a legal relationship but thta argunment would probably be shot down by the HB payments, which suggest a more formal arrangement.
Even if you evict him there is no guarnatee that your son would be owed a homelessness duty by the council. He would have to be in some form, of Priority Need. These categories are:-
Pregnant
Dependent children (Up to 18 in full time education)
Homeless through Fire. flood or similar disaster.
Vulbnerable because of....
Violence or threats of violence.
Unaffordability.
bad property conditions, including overcrowding.
mental health problems
physical health problems
Vulnerable as a result of prison sentence, armed forces service, care leaver
Any other special reason.
So if you ended his contract there is no guarantee that he would be re-housed.
It could be that your son falls through the cracks and doesnt fit any category. This is why people sleep on the street.

20:29 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

By law you cannot rent your property to your relatives who claim housing benefits.I know how you feel but thats the law

Mark Alexander

21:31 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

Your statement is incorrect. The two other commentors on this thread (Ben and Zeeblebum) are Housing Experts, Google them if you wish. I'm certain they will confirm that your statement is totally wrong.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

22:37 PM, 23rd August 2012
About 8 years ago

Yeah thats a nonsense argument Ali. Family has different definitions in different areas of housing law. For instance the definition of who consititutes family members is different when considering succession rights (Death of tenant) than it does does when considering family connection in local connection rules for homelessness applicants.
To say that a person is excluded from national benefits simply because they are in some way related to the landlord doesnt work. It is what is termed in law "The level of consanguinity". A person could be a third cousin but in reality be closer in relationsip terms than a sister.
Familial connection do raise issues as to whether it was the intention of both parties to enter a legal relationship but in the OPs sense in setting up an HB claim it would be hard to argue that there wasnt an intention to create a contract. The problem Annette is up against isnt the level of consanguinity, but the money she has been dumping into his account which is causing the HB team to stop payments

6:36 AM, 24th August 2012
About 8 years ago

You should have sussed how the benefit system works.
You should not have shown ANY traceable transactions from you to your son.
Your son could have had a pre-paid CASHLPLUS MC which would have been untraceable.
You could have paid any amount up to £5000 to this account.
Alternatively you should have given him untraceable cash.
With any stated domestic position you can only live in accordance with stated income.
Any assistance to him cannot be traceable anywhere.
This is easy to do.
But you have to know you have to do this.
You have been caught out.
You must remember honesty does not pay in the benefit system.
Plausibility is what it is all about.
Remember the social have access to all of your son's financial information.
You must ensure that the only info they can see is in accordance with your son's stated financial circumstances.
You will be paying a severe lesson.
Why don't you evict him and then the social will have to pay someone else and then you can pass cash onto him whenever needed.
The other alternative is to have a bank account in your name which you use for transactions for him that you don't want the social to see.
This is what loads of people do.
You have been caught out by not doing so.
Hopefully you have now learnt how to play the game.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

7:40 AM, 24th August 2012
About 8 years ago

Paul is telling the truth Annette, your crime was in being honest. Although I wonder how come Paul knows so much about it. Most parents moan about their kids returning home to get their laundry done, in Paul's model its doing their money laundering he is suggesting haha

10:03 AM, 24th August 2012
About 8 years ago

I have to say I have NO direct experience of the methods I have discussed.
But I am aware through various associations that one should NOT present a true account of their financial status if it is more than was stated for benefit claims
That would be tantamount to advising that one should do certain things.
discussing what one could do is not suggesting one should.
There is a sublte difference.
One can discusss fraudulent methods without EVER recommending them to be caried out.
Even if doing so actually helps the state.
That is not the point.
Benefit claiming is very black and white.
You state your financial circumstances and due benefits are then accorded.
You will be checked on and if there is any difference to what has been stated they will pull the benefit.
That is as it should be.
However they can only see what they can see.
They cannot see into a safe, or a draw or a safe somewhere else or a draw.
One has to think asymetrically.
Thinking conventionally will get you stitched up by yourself.
The system is set up to apportion benefits fairly and we should all support those aims.
The naive who do what they think are doing the right things find themselves caught out by the system.
My best advice is know the system and operate accordingly.
Annette was in the overall scheme of things doing the right thing by her son.
The benefit system looks at it in a completely different way.
Income is income and income from her would automatically reduce her son's claim as he stated he had no income, when he clearly had,as evidenced by bank statements.
The benefits people have little choice than to cancel and clawback the claim amounts as there has been a clear and apparent deception as evidenced by bank statements.
ANY change in financial circumstances HAS to be notified by the claimant, irrespective of his mental capababilities.
I would suggest Annette is not what we call 'streetwise' and believed genuinly she was doing the right thing by her son, both morally and fianancially.
That is NOT how the states sees it or saw it.
So lessons to be learned from Annette's experience.
I for one am not going to suggest any particular course of action.
It is up to the individual as to what they wish to do.
But ideally do so from a position of knowledge rather than uninformed ignorance.
I believe MOST people know in their heart that what they are doing is not totally above board.
If you get caught out because you don't understand modern life then that is your fault.
Always err on the side of BIG BROTHER knows everything about you, especially if you are on benefits.
Operate acordingly and you won't go far wrong.

Adam Zeeblebum

11:05 AM, 24th August 2012
About 8 years ago

There are assumptions being made here that may well not be correct.

The decision that the HB service reached may not have been because they consider those payments to be income. And even if they do consider it to be income, then that is challengeable. For example, paying money to a tenant "to purchase materials for work that needs to be done on the property" could be considered a legitimate part of a landlord's responsbility to maintain the property. Social housing providers are starting to do the same thing with their tenants, and that hasn't caused the reassessment and/or cancellation of all of those tenants' HB claims.

We don't know the reason why the HB service has reached the decision to cancel the claim. It may be because they consider those payments to be income, but it may not be - there are other possibilities.

Annette - I would encourage you to continue being as honest and transparent with the HB service as possible. Not doing so could be considered fraud. If that came to light, the penalties for both you and your son could be considerably worse than simply a cancelled HB claim.

Whatever the reason for the HB service's decision, it is challengeable. That, in my opinion, is the way forward here. You have been open and transparent with them, but they may have drawn the wrong conclusions from the information you provided and made an incorrect decision. How you go about challenging that decision depends on the particular reason or reasons why the claim has been cancelled, and also to some extent what legal advice services you could access.

1 2 3

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

The Property Investors Awards is delighted to announce the winners for 2020

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More