Council want their housing money back – £15,000!

by Readers Question

10:23 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Council want their housing money back – £15,000!

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Council want their housing money back – £15,000!

Tenant of over 20 years on housing benefit. Been paying their rent ok up to some months ago and then stopped due to ‘a problem with council payments’. housing benefit

Letter from council is claiming £15,000 back from them for an overpayment they tell me and they are trying to get it sorted out.

The rent was always paid to me by tenant and I had no reason to suppose they might have a problem up until now. Where do I stand ?

The council would not come to me for a repayment could they ?

Amy



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:25 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

OMG that is a lot of money Amy.

I am hoping as the Council did not pay you directly that they can't reclaim it back from you, but we have not had this specific scenario before.

tony tony

12:25 PM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

the council cannot claim it off you , as long as you have not committed any type of misdoing, they will have to claim it off the tennat if you have a problem with the council trying to claim it off you get in touch with bill irvine he is a master of getting these type of things sorted out cheers ts

Gary Nock

17:49 PM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Not as far as I know. The problem arises when it's paid direct and then the tenants circs change - they move someone in or get a cash in hand job and don't declare it. Then they claim it back - or try to as they claim " the landlord knew" they were fiddling. If it's paid to the tenant then it's down to them.

Amanda Stevens

18:43 PM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Amy, the Council cannot recover any overpaid Housing Benefit from you if the benefit was not paid directly to you. They will recover the overpayment from the tenant by making weekly deductions from their benefit. This means there will be a shortfall and your tenant will have to make up the difference.

Even if the Housing Benefit was paid directly to you there are some circumstances where the Council cannot recover it from you if you can argue that you could not be reasonably aware that an overpayment had occurred. So for example, if your tenant failed to sign on and they lost entitlement to benefit as a result, this is not something that you could reasonably be aware of and can therefore, appeal against the overpayment being recovered from you.

Donovan Elliott

9:00 AM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hello.

This is probably Local Authority error.

You'd need to get the reasons for the overpayment.

Ask the tenant for all the paperwork and draft an appeal.

I can help with that

Nick Pope

16:59 PM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

We had a similar problem. Change in tenant's circumstances (husband arrived from abroad and moved in) and the Council came to us a year later as the rent had been paid to us direct and the ren had been overpaid. I sensed that they were going down the route of attempting to claw some money back until I pointed them to the e-mail I had sent a week afer the husband appeared telling them the situation.
That shut them up quickly but I am still unconvinced that they could have claimed it back.
Moral is to tell the council of any changes as you become aware and you are covered.
The upside of this case was that another baby appeared at the house in less than a year and we could then get an increase in the rent!

Thom Hill

17:04 PM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

The tenant needs to take specialist advice from a CAB or similar agency with experience dealing with benefit law (not a high street lawyer). The decision on overpayment may be appealable but they will only have 1 month in which to lodge an appeal or reconsideration request. If they fail to file an appeal, they could be stuck with the debt. They might also be well advised to make a new claim. Common reasons for an overpayment of that size are (a) the council has decided they have been living with an undisclosed partner the whole time or (b) the council has decided that they have been misreporting their income the whole time.

The overpayment is not automatically recoverable from you but there are circumstances where it can be - mainly if it has occurred because you have misrepresented or failed to disclose something which has caused the overpayment. If they did decide that, you would also have appeal rights.

The issue is between the tenant and the council and you really ought to stay out of it as much as you can. You shouldn't be gathering up their paperwork and helping with an appeal because if they have been hiding something, seeming buddy-buddy with them will look to all the world as though you have been deliberately helping them hide it from the beginning and the council will see that as a great opportunity to pin the debt on you instead,

Rob Crawford

10:03 AM, 19th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Amy, you should find the following link of interest: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-benefit-overpayments-guide


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