15:56 PM, 20th December 2011, About 10 years ago 18
For months now, those of us in the housing advice world have been watching the slow motion car crash that is the unfolding housing benefit changes and we are nearly at the point where the airbag fails to deploy.
That’s right folks, the impending changes to the single room rate is just over a week away.
In case you missed it, in it’s rush to save money, the government has decided that the age limit for the housing benefit level for single people under the age of 25 is to be raised to 35. The SRR as it is known pays housing benefit for a single room only. If the claimant wants their own one bed self contained flat, they have to find the rest of the rent themselves. Of course, being on benefits they don’t have the extra money so are destined to only live in shared accommodation for the most part.
The single room rate is what most tenants in HMOs have traditionally been on, but up until now housing benefit claimants over 25 could claim benefit for a self contained property not just a room in a house. This all comes to an end in January 2012.
This means the age of your average HMO tenant on benefits will rise to almost middle age.
But as you would expect things aren’t quite so simple. There are a number of exceptions to the single room rate eligibility. I just received a very useful leaflet that explains how the exemptions work. You may find it useful. You can download a copy here
There has been a last minute flurry of quick training sessions for us all and the circulation of a variety of advice leaflets. Obviously us lot are going to be looking into ways to get tenants around this and into the eligibility criteria. For once we are on the landlord’s side.
We have already started jiggering around with it. I interviewed a guy two weeks ago who turns 35 in September. What we had to do was bust a gut to get him out of his tenancy and into a new one before January 1st. That way he stays on the normal HB rate for a year, during which time he turns 35 and will be safe from the cuts.
All you HMO landlords out there get ready for a lot of confusion and don’t expect consistent advice from HB or other agencies as we all get to grips with the new rules and its exemptions.
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