Housing Benefit reclaim by Council on my long term 73 year old tenant

by Readers Question

3 years ago

Housing Benefit reclaim by Council on my long term 73 year old tenant

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Housing Benefit reclaim by Council on my long term 73 year old tenant

I have a tenant who is 73 years old. She has been my tenant for over 21 years. When she moved in, she had two grandchildren living with her (cousins). The girl moved out at age 17 and went to live with a boyfriend – had a child – subsequently moved in with another boyfriend and had two more children. However she has always lived nearby her grandmother, and in 2010 she and her partner moved to one of my properties right opposite her grandmother.

The granddaughter’s relationship broke down last summer and she was moved by Social Services to a women’s refuge. She only lasted there for a short while and came back to this area and moved in with friends. In August, the children were taken into care, and she spent some time with friends and some time sleeping on her grandmother’s sofa. She has since moved out and is living with a girlfriend.

My elderly tenant receives some Housing Benefit towards her rent – this is paid directly to me – she pays me the rest in cash each week.

Now the Housing Benefit people have been to see my tenant. They have written to her and to me, claiming that the granddaughter has been living with her since 2013 and claiming overpayment of over £3,000.

From my records, I know where she was up until July last year – that was not with her grandmother.

My question is – does my tenant have to prove that her granddaughter was not living with her – or do the HB people have to prove that she was. And what level of proof would they accept? A statement from the tenant and/or her granddaughter? A statement or letter from me? A letter from Social Services? (If they would provide one.) This is all new ground for me.

Many thanks.

Smithyrefund



Comments

ADELE KAZEEM

3 years ago

Sorry Smithy, HB people do not have to prove your tenant's grand daughter was living anywhere. It is up to your tenant to prove her case and provide necessary documents / proof(s).

As to what proof, again a letter from you is not acceptable in this case but a letter from Social Services can help. If you convince the Social Services your 73 year old tenant is at risk of rent arrears / homelessness they might just provide such a letter to help your tenant avoid homelessness.
Because of her age you may have to do a lot of this running around for this tenant.
Good luck !

Philip Savva

3 years ago

I agree with Adele, it is not upto the council to prove what they claim, it is upto you to prove what you claim! & prove they are wrong in the claims! Good luck

The grandmother is the claimant, she has the duty to report any changes to HB team. IF the granddaughter was not living there then the grandmother should write to state so. BUT, if the HB payment included the granddaughter's portion, then the would be an over payment, BUT, you as landlord would not have reasonably known, SO, they shouldnt claim off you, BUT the overpayment will still have to be paid by the grandmother slowly form her hb payments ongoing. IF I am wrong then hopefully someone out there can state so. YOU need to contact Bill Irvine on this site, he advises landlords who rent to HB tenants. It's a minefield!

Sally T

3 years ago

Have you spoken to the council yet ? I'd make a phone call or if possible a visit (I always get further in person) and explain the situation. You should make them aware of 2 things
1. You were not aware the granddaughter was living there and the overpayment should be claimed back from the tenant.
2. You can help the tenant prove the granddaughter wasn't living at the property when they state she was.
I know it's not really your job to run round helping your tenant on his, but it's surprising how much more you can achieve with the council if you all stick together.

Graham Durkin

3 years ago

As stated initially this is a matter solely between the tenant and the council as the contract is between them ,however as it directly affects the landlord I would request a signed letter from my tenant allowing the council to discuss her housing issues.although the H/B rules are same through the country it appears reading lot of posts that many councils interpret/apply them differently .I personally would be collating as much information where possible to prove my tenants case, I believe that if an overpayment is made to the landlord and he is not aware that an infringment has taken place by the tenant ,although the council are legally entitled to recover this money they can go direct to the tenant and not the landlord for recovery. what ever the council decide there is an appeals process that should be used to state the case as you see it,but i say again some councils do their own thing.

Tony McVey

3 years ago

If you have received an overpayment invoice, you need to lodge an appeal
in writing immediately. An impartial chairman (legally qualified) will hear the
matter. You can produce such evidence as you have, both documentary and
personal (the granddaughter, for example)to prove your case. The chairman should
hear both sides and will decide on the basis of the evidence. He will not simply
accept what HB says if there is contrary evidence.


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