Can the Housing Benefit Office Do This?

Can the Housing Benefit Office Do This?

16:34 PM, 23rd August 2012, About 9 years ago 29

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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.



Comments

by

15:33 PM, 25th August 2012, About 9 years ago

Hi,
I have regularly given money back to tenants back to tenants to fix things, a new shower and cubical. Re-tiling of a kitchen. They don't. Undertake the work themselves they just arrange trades people which removes me from the loop. Save time money and tenants chasing me to chase tradesmen. I'm sure your son would be an ideal tenant for doing this and saving you the effort.

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

20:46 PM, 25th August 2012, About 9 years ago

Thanks for that Rodent. Good advice

by Adam Zeeblebum

2:17 AM, 26th August 2012, About 9 years ago

@eb718d03be273af6318d0b0017f97f52:disqus

From that extra bit you've quoted, it looks like the conclusion the HB service has reached is that the arrangement between you and your son is not on a commercial basis. If that's correct, the way HB regulations have it is that it is the responsibility of the landlord/claimant to prove that it is a commercial arrangement, and particularly - in your case - that your son is liable to make rent payments.

I think that would be quite positive in one respect. It would mean that they haven't dug too deeply into the arrangement between you and your son, because they're not obliged to do so in this instance. That may mean that the foundations for their decision are a little shaky.

> "It would appear that I have no redress"

Maybe, maybe not. Did the solicitor you consulted give any indication of what he or she thought of the merits of challenging the decision?

A visit to your local CAB would be a good starting point. Another couple of options that might be worth pursuing are:

- contacting Shelter http://www.shelter.org.uk/ - different contact details depending on where in the UK you're from. This would be a contact (nominally, at least) from your son, on the basis that his HB claim has been cancelled and as a result is homeless. If your son would prefer not to handle the bulk of the contact with Shelter, I think he should be able to make the initial phonecall and then give Shelter consent/authority to discuss the case with you.

- Community Legal Advice http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directories/UsefulContactsByCategory/Governmentcitizensandrightscontacts/DG_195356
Contact with CLA could come from either you or your son. But I think that the service is funded by legal aid, so the person best placed to contact them would be whichever one of you is most likely to be eligible for legal aid.

- I think this last one is a bit leftfield, but it could potentially be the one that bears the greatest fruit: an approach by your son to the local authority's homelessness service (might be called Housing Options, Homeless Persons Unit, Housing Advice Team/Centre, or other similar names). Given that it could be argued that the reason for your son's homelessness would be the cancellation of the HB claim, that homelessness would be easily preventable by the HB service reversing that decision. Depending on the relationship between the homelessness and HB services (sometimes good, sometimes not so good, and that can in part depend on whether or not the services are still provided in-house rather than having been contracted out), the homelessness service may be in a good position to influence the HB service's decision. If you go down that route, and they don't seem very interested in helping out, my suggestion would be that you insist that they take a homelessness application from your son - the threshold for triggering a legal responsibility to take a homelessness application is very low, and only needs there to be 'reason to believe that the applicant may be homeless or threatened with homelessness'. Taking a homelessness application might help to focus their minds a little.

by

11:32 AM, 26th August 2012, About 9 years ago

Brilliant advice from the newest professional poster, very informative for Annette's situation and a warning to other paties in similar circumstances
Wouldn't fancy doing prison time like happened in Peterborough!!!

by Adam Zeeblebum

16:47 PM, 26th August 2012, About 9 years ago

> "Brilliant advice"

Thank you, Paul. :o)

@eb718d03be273af6318d0b0017f97f52:disqus

Re. approaching the local authority's homelessness service...

I've been thinking about this a bit more since I posted. The homelessness service could make a fairly quick 'not homeless' decision. They could rely on the HB service's decision that there is no liability to pay rent, and therefore your son can afford to remain in the property.

If that happens, you have the right to request that that decision is reviewed. The reviewing officer (who would be a different person - and, I think, more senior - to the person that made the original decision) would have to delve more deeply into the situation, rather than just relying on the investigation (or lack of) and decision of the HB service.

by Annette Cranstoun

2:19 AM, 27th August 2012, About 9 years ago

Good morning - Very many thanks for all your wise advice, it is very much appreciated. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or energy to keep on fighting. My husband went for a routine operation and came out of hospital paralysed in his right leg and his left kidney destroyed and now needs permanent care. I have been fighting his case for coming up to 3 years now. As I said before, we all went through horrendous times when my son was using. I have just been trying to do the best for my family and by being honest, stand to lose even more. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit self pitying, it isn't meant to be as I am usually a very positive person. I realise that this is not really a suitable comment for this site but just wanted to explain why I probably won't take it any further. I have also been down the appeal route before which I won but I never did receive the payments from the council.

by

4:35 AM, 27th August 2012, About 9 years ago

See where you are coming from.
Salutory lesson though, in future use cash to 'help' people, never have traceable transactions that can be linked between parties.
Wish you well.

by Adam Zeeblebum

7:11 AM, 27th August 2012, About 9 years ago

@eb718d03be273af6318d0b0017f97f52:disqus

You're very welcome.

And I didn't think your post sounded self-pitying.

I hope things work out for you and your family in the way you want them to.
Z

by BobG

17:12 PM, 27th August 2012, About 9 years ago

I just happened to see this but found it really interesting and relevant. I am in the same situation having a son who is badly affected by small amounts of cannabis and we had to ask him to the leave the house after various interventions by the police. I put him into s studio apartment about a mile away owned by my limited company which should be regarded as a separate legal entity. He was turned down for housing benefit simply because he was my son which was put into a letter. I don't pay any money into his bank account and our support is based on standing the cost of the lost rent payments and supplying him with a hot meal every evening and paying his utilities. Thanks for all the input - based on what has been said I will look into this again.


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