Deduction of tenant debt from Housing Benefit?

by Readers Question

11:58 AM, 27th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Deduction of tenant debt from Housing Benefit?

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Deduction of tenant debt from Housing Benefit?

Could anyone please let me know if it is possible to have a small sum of money deducted from a tenant’s housing or other benefit payment following an eviction where the tenant has got a county court judgment. debt

I know this may seem a futile exercise where a landlord claiming would probably only get a few pounds (less than £10) per month or if any deducted from the tenant’s benefits.

I do realise that this may not be cost effective considering the tracing and court costs however, the object of the exercise would be to prevent the tenant from repeating this in the future and also tenants such as these should feel some pain for their actions.

I have over the years lost thousands of pounds due to tenants deliberately not paying rent believing that they would get away with it.

Clint



Comments

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:43 AM, 28th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I enquired about this years ago, and was told that only council tax arrears could be deducted in this way.

KATHY MILLER

9:50 AM, 28th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I believe you can but only if the tenant is still in the rented property where debt occurred.

As the tenant as left you will not be able to.

I think that if tenants have a debt regardless of where they move to you should be able to attach but as always it favours the tenant.

But if they owe housing benefit government money from another house and you take them on you will see a deduction for overpayment.

Robert Mellors

10:13 AM, 28th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Clint,

Like yourself I have also lost £thousands over the years and would love to be able to recover some of it, even if only at a very small amount per week, and I have written extensively on this subject in several threads on this site. I also agree that if a small amount was deducted from their weekly benefits, then over time it would discourage them from ripping off their next landlord (and the next, and the next, etc).

However, my understanding is that as the law stands:

A current landlord can obtain "third party payments" from a claimant's JSA/ESA/IS benefits (but not from other types of benefits) BUT only while the tenant is a current tenant. - I do this as a matter of course for tenant debtors, and although it takes a few weeks to get set up by the DWP, and payments are only made every 4 weeks in arrears, this does work well over time.

Third Party Payments (TPPs) for FORMER tenants' debt (including former tenant arrears) are only possible for water charges, council tax, magistrates court fines (including compensation orders etc), and benefit overpayments. - Unfortunately, TPPs are NOT available to former landlords trying to recover former tenant rent arrears (or any other charges, e.g. for damage to property).

I have in the past written to the DWP about this, who simply state the legislation as not allowing them to do this, and I even contact my MP about the unfairness of this, but as a labour MP he was busy thinking about bedroom tax so he did not even seem to understand what issue I was talking about, and said that I can take tenants to court and pursue normal debt enforcement methods. - He obviously knows little about the situation or why this is usually not feasible for this client group.

I have in the past also suggested on this site that landlords should campaign for a change in the law to enable former tenant arrears to be recoverable via TPPs from debtors benefits, but I got no support on this suggestion, and it would need a lot of voices calling for this, not just me.

Therefore, unless the debtor has assets you can seize, or is in permanent employment (not on a zero hours contract), then there is no reliably EFFECTIVE enforcement action available. In my opinion, this is morally wrong.

KATHY MILLER

15:21 PM, 28th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Perhaps we should ask shelters views on this!

I would support the campaign.
This government brings in U credit to make tenants more responsible but continues to let them rip off landlords for thousands.
Would it be against are human rights that government bodies can but not landlords

Stephen Smith

5:00 AM, 29th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi,

Sorry to hear of the problems, I too have a policy to chase debts.

The simple answer, with 20/20 hindsight of course, is that every tenant has a guarantor, someone with assets that you can pursue.

Even the best tenant can lose their job, or choose not to pay since they want the last rental payment to pay for the deposit on the new property whilst leaving you with the damage, or go on holiday, or pay their speeding fines (twice for the same person within 3 days!!)
The answer may be insurance? however insurance rent guarantee policies have excess charges which will include the security deposit.

Stephen

Gary Nock

7:11 AM, 29th April 2016
About 3 years ago

Stephen that used to be the case. But the rent insurance product I use through a well known insurance company costs me £73.48 for 12 months per property and pays out without taking the deposit as excess. However I don't (and won't) take DSS tenants due to a previous bad experience with the only one I ever took.

Mick Roberts

15:31 PM, 30th April 2016
About 3 years ago

I was just gonna' say ask Robert Mellors but he beat me to it.
He's the expert on DWP deductions.

Wahid Khan

13:26 PM, 1st May 2016
About 3 years ago

I saw an article on-line where the local authority took the tenant to court for spending the landlords rent and was sent to prison. This happened around 18 months ago and it was the first of its kind! It happened down Cornwall Devon side somewhere! Not much help, but I tried to Google it and could not fine the article.


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