Council holding back rent payment in 8 week backlog!

by Readers Question

14:04 PM, 20th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Council holding back rent payment in 8 week backlog!

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Council holding back rent payment in 8 week backlog!

My husband and I are relatively new to the buy-to-let business and we would value any advice.
I let a property to a lady with three children. She is a single mother who receives housing benefit. backlog

In March my tenant got a part time job. She contacted the council who promptly suspended her claim for housing benefit. My tenant was advised to take proof of her wages to the council office, which she did on 15th April.

A couple of weeks after this I phoned the council to see why I had not received any rent for my tenant. I was told that there was a 8 week back log to all new claims because of people needing housing, who are being sent to this area (Medway, Kent) from London.

We have now passed the 8 week processing time and I still haven’t had any more news about when the rent will be paid. Consequently my tenant is now, through no fault of her own, three months behind with her rent. I have phoned the council numerous times and all they say is, this claim is with the assessor and they don’t know how long it will take.

Do you think this is a tactic by the local council to save money. If this is happening to hundreds of private landlords, there is quite a bit of unallocated rent sitting in the councils bank account accumulating interest.

Does anyone have any advice please?

Carole



Comments

Luke P

16:26 PM, 20th June 2016
About 2 years ago

You are very late to the party. The party that is is Housing-Benefit-departments-are-a-law-unto-themselves. If you are inexperienced in dealing with LAs over HB/LHA, I would suggest you get out and stay out.

More immediately useable advice: have your tenant quote section 93 of the Housing Benefit Regulations (2006?), get her to see a solicitor about the LA causing her potential homelessness (write her a letter with threats of Notice) and that she will seek redress in the form of a pay-out for it being through no fault of her own.

Pressure your tenant rather than appearing on side with her, that way she will in turn pressure the Council. If she thinks you're 'okay' with the situation (i.e. arrears, albeit of the LAs making), she'll sit back and not help herself. It may be the Council are waiting on payslips. I've had a number of tenants say similar, only for me to discover that the claim has actually been cancelled because the LA has been requesting information that the tenant couldn't be bothered to taken in.

Pradip Thaker

17:51 PM, 20th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi I have the same issue. I changed agents and the rents got sent back. Was told by council via agent it could take 11 weeks. So the agent has sent section 21 notice.
Hope it works.

Ian Ringrose

18:03 PM, 20th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Also serve a S8 notice, and ask the tenant to go and see the “home less team”, as they are about to be made homeless…..

Pradip Thaker

19:40 PM, 20th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Thanks Ian. The council not take into account or they do but disguard it that we landlord's have mortgages

Robert Mellors

8:19 AM, 21st June 2016
About 2 years ago

If the tenant goes to the homelessness dept with a valid s8 Notice (and valid s21 Notice), then the homelessness dept will get the Housing Benefit Dept to prioritise the processing of the HB application so as to prevent homelessness.

The Homelessness Dept also has discretion to pay the landlord a sum of money towards the arrears IF this will prevent homelessness (every council has a pot of money (albeit limited) specifically for homelessness prevention and they can use this money at their discretion to pay rent arrears to landlords).

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) can also be used to pay rent up front, and/or rent arrears. This is administered by the Housing Benefit Dept, and is entirely separate to the Homelessness Prevention money that the Homelessness Dept have. But, the Homelessness Dept can work with the Housing Benefit Dept to get the DHP money paid to the tenant, in some cases.

However, the Homelessness Dept will only really make an effort if the family would become statutorily homeless (i.e. the council would have a legal duty to re-house them). This means that the tenant must be eligible, homeless (or threatened with homelessness within 28 days), in priority need (e.g. have children living with them as part of their household), not intentionally homeless (caused their own homelessness), and have a local connection (lived in the area for 6 months out of the last 12 months or 3 years out of the last 5 years and/or have close family in the area).

Pradip Thaker

8:25 AM, 21st June 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "21/06/2016 - 08:19":

Thanks will inform letting agent

Pradip Thaker

8:25 AM, 21st June 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "21/06/2016 - 08:19":

Thanks will inform letting agent

Smithy @hotmail

14:03 PM, 25th June 2016
About 2 years ago

I have six tenants who receive benefits from Medway. In my experience, the HB office is short staffed and dreadfully over-worked. However, I have been dealing with them for many years and find them unfailingly polite and helpful.

It does indeed take about eight weeks for a new claim, or change, to be paid, but I have always received full back-dating. I suggest you are polite but persistent.

If you live in Medway, you could always contact your local Councillor, or ask your tenant to contact hers. It is the Councillors who decide the level of staffing and who can act on behalf of their constituents, dealing with problems relating to Council departments.

I don't think it is a tactic to save money - I think it is purely pressure of work.

Charles Fonteijn

13:54 PM, 26th June 2016
About 2 years ago

You should insert a clause in the tenancy agreement stating that the tenant grants permission to the landlord or his agent to discuss the claim for housing benefit so that the Council will be authorised to release information about what is going on. If you are already in a tenancy you can ask the tenant to sign a statement which confirms that the tenant agrees that the Council can share information with the landlord. I recommend that you send this statement to the Council or hand deliver.It is recommend to include the tenants national insurance number if known.

Pradip Thaker

19:33 PM, 26th June 2016
About 2 years ago

Thank you will do

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