Bill irvine

Registered with Property118.com
Wednesday 7th August 2013


Latest Comments

Total Number of Property118 Comments: 103

Bill irvine

19:50 PM, 25th February 2021
About 2 months ago

Can I report this to the police for fraud as UC might not do anything?

Reply to the comment left by Jaye at 25/02/2021 - 16:17
Hi Jaye

Yes, the designated manager for the area of the property.

If you Google "Group Director & Service Leader Contact list – August 2020 ... you'll secure a list. Scroll down to find those nearest. Name and email provided.

In the subject matter insert "Complaint & Compensation" nothing else. In the body set out what's happened; how DWP has failed you; causing wholly unnecessary rental loss of £xxxxx; and repossession. This is exactly what the APA scheme was designed to avoid.

Bill... Read More

Bill irvine

13:13 PM, 25th February 2021
About 2 months ago

Can I report this to the police for fraud as UC might not do anything?

Hi April

You're right; it shouldn't take 2/3 years to pursue a complaint of maladminstration to secure compensation for rental losses, but it does.

It's also a scandal; a classic example of "justice delayed ..........justice denied" and something many landlords, on this forum, have been highlighting to MPs, MSPs and Government Ministers, in addition to forums like this, NRLA, Property Tribes, and the media, with little or no success.

See my members' bulletins:

a) DWP guilty of Maladminstration in 100% of cases https://universalcreditadvice.com/news/dwp-guilty-of-maladminstration-in-100-of-cases-but-no-penalties-applied/

b) DWP & ICE failing Private Landlords https://universalcreditadvice.com/articles/dwp-and-independent-case-examiner-both-failing-private-landlords/

I'm old enough to remember those halcyon days, you refer to, when a referral to your local MP (in my case, now Lord George Robertson) could work wonders with both HMRC and DWP (DHSS). Many problems were resolved quickly and without the need to go through tortuous complaint processes, clearly designed to impede and frustrate.

Part of the problem is, DWP doesn't recognise Private Landlords as "clients" or "customers". When creating the UC scheme, it made sure landlords would not have any rights of appeal against refusals to redirect housing costs, where monies were being misused. Its "Complaints Process" doesn't even mention "Landlords". Its complaints form asks for Nat Ins Nos and is clearly designed for claimants.

In contrast, when I'm representing landlords in housing benefit disputes, over direct payments, I can use the Independent Tribunal Service, where landlords are viewed as "persons affected". When complaining, I can write to the Council's Chief Executive. When I do, the complaint is usually acknowledged within 24 hours; is referred to the Head of Benefits and oftentimes results in a "revision" in favour of my clients, avoiding the need for a tribunal or complaint. When pursuing compensation in HB cases, referrals are dealt with by the Local Government Ombudsman who invariably concludes their investigation in 3-6 months and are generally supportive of the landlords' position when public monies are misused by tenants!

Bill... Read More

Bill irvine

11:48 AM, 25th February 2021
About 2 months ago

Can I report this to the police for fraud as UC might not do anything?

Jaye

I have a great deal of sympathy for landlords like you and the hundreds, if not thousand others, that apply to DWP for redirection of the "housing costs element" only to be thwarted by a combination of tenant delinquency (sometimes fraudulent actions like, manufacturing new ASTs with payments being made to relatives bank accounts) and downright maladministration on the part of DWP staff, some of whom make decisions which simply beggar belief.

Given what you've said about repeatedly asking DWP to address the issue of redirection of the housing costs, you'd be better pursuing a complaint against DWP, especially now you have the possession order and can demonstrate a large part of your rental loss was caused by DWP's inaction. The downside to this is, it might take 2/3 years to secure an outcome. To date, most landlord complaints of maladministration that I've been involved with, have been upheld by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

The Alternative Payment Arrangement scheme was designed to prevent exactly what's happened in your case. When you complete the online application for redirection, DWP is supposed to notify the tenant and provide him/her, 1 week to challenge the basis of your application with credible evidence. An allegation of a "boiler problem" should be irrelevant. What should count is, whether you can demonstrate that you've satisfied one of the Tier 1 factors. If you have, DWP should redirect on the basis redirection to you is in the best interests of the tenant and his family if he has one.

On far too many occasions, DWP's staff allow themselves to be influenced by a range of irrelevant factors including, the notion tenants still need to provide consent. The need for consent was removed in December 2017 and should never have been a consideration in the first place!

If you haven't already made a complaint, email your local Practice Manager or Service leader to start the ball rolling.

Bill... Read More

Bill irvine

18:49 PM, 8th February 2021
About 2 months ago

A letter to address UC flaws to private landlords

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 08/02/2021 - 16:52Hi Jo
I'd hold onto the funds until you hear from DWP.
In 2019/20 DWP reported £1.75 Billion in overpayments, representig 10% of UC expenditure. The National Audit Office rightly slammed DWP for its scandalous performance.
At some point, DWP will address the question of whether the "housing costs element" were due to you or not. From what you've said, there's every likelihood of an overpayment and almost certainly, DWP will look to you as culpable. Unlike HB/LHA overpayments caused by "official error" are recoverable, even where the tenant & landlord play no part in its creation. Recovery is however "discretionary" although DWP has still to grasp this as it invariably refers debts to its "Debt Management" team and it duly sends out invoices for payment demands.
One of my Housing Association clients contacted me, around 3 years ago, after receiving an invoice for £1800. The document had little by way of information and was sent from an office in Belfast.
When I contacted the office to ask what it referred to I was initially confronted by demands for my national insurance number (NINO). Despite explaining I was acting as representative and my NINO was irrelevant, they refused to speak to me. On my 2nd call, I persuaded the member of staff to speak to me. But when I asked to see DWP's "Decision" letter, it was clear he had no knowledge of why this was not only important but was a legal requirement. After checking with colleagues he admitted no letter had been sent and this would be rectified. Three years later, we've heard nothing!
Meantime, my clients and I, challenge any attempts by DWP to recover overpayments, as they are, yet again, trying to take shortcuts by demanding all overpayments arising from accounts where APAs are in place, should be recovered from the landlord payee. As most experienced landlords will know, the law requires a more thorough examination of the facts to determine the cause of the overpayment as that determines the question of culpability.... Read More

Bill irvine

18:02 PM, 8th February 2021
About 2 months ago

A letter to address UC flaws to private landlords

Reply to the comment left by Alan Wong at 08/02/2021 - 15:51
Hi Alan

Mick emailed me with a link to your article on Property118. It's good to see you taking this step as there's not enough of this happening.

As you suggest to Mick, there's nothing unique about your various complaints and suggestions to DWP, landlords throughout the UK, have been making similar complaints for years.

I secured agreement with DWP's Directorate as far back as 2015 that it would suspend payment of the HCE where an APA was received claiming, the "housing costs" had been misused by the tenant.

When I started submitting complaints to ICE, pointing to this commitment, and DWP's refusal to implement it, the response from its Directorate was, this was not possible, despite the fact, both the UC regulations and DWP's own internal guidance, supported the landlords' position.

Some of you may remember my open letter to Neil Couling, Director General and my follow-up response, when he tried to undermine the credibility of my claims https://www.property118.com/open-letter-dwp-neil-couling-regarding-universal-credit/comment-page-2/

Not long after this, he was approached by his Head of Complaints about the 20+ complaints I had made to ICE. Mr X had taken the rather unusual step of suggesting to the Independent Case Examiner that my complaints should be considered as a form of "class action" as they were all were seeking recompense due to DWP maladministration. He also confirmed to Mr Couling, that he agreed with my claims that "Explicit Consent" had no role to play in APA processing and was in fact, an absurd position to adopt, when DWP had ample evidence to suggest, these delinquent tenants had already repeatedly misused, funds designed to reduce or extingush nothing other than their rent liability. On a positive note, Mr Couling was forced in December 2017 to withdraw the need for "explicit consent" and notified staff accordingly. Three years and change later, however, DWP staff are still wrongly refusing APAs on this basis!

Just as absurd is DWP's insistence, that any "change in circumstances" merits cancelling the APA. The APA was presumably secured on the basis the landlord satisfied DWP, at the point the request was made, that Tier 1 factors applied. Unless the change of circumstsnces alters that position (e.g. tenant has cleared rent arrears), the APA should remain in place.

In HB/LHA, where the tenant requests the cancellation of direct payments, the Council, as you suggest, firstly suspend payment, contacts both parties, and then makes a decision, fully aware of all the facts. In UC, all to often APA arrangements are cancelled, without any due process or consideration of the facts, resulting in delinquent tenants accessing and misusing even more public funds. None of these tenants is ever sanctioned or prosecuted, even where its clear theyve used fraudulent action, including suggesting they've changed landlord and fraudulently produce a concocted AST with a family members' bank details to secure the funds.

In its response to you, DWP's management will waffle, just as Mr Couling did away back in 2017. They'll refer to the new online system and how it vastly improves the old UC 47's but what they won't do is acknowledge is:

a) The application is not formally acknowledged; and
b) Pending the decision on the merits of your application, there is no dedicated email or effective telephone number you can use to question its progress; and
c) Even where HCE has been misused, it will not be suspended in most cases; and
d) Those landlords that phone 0800 328 5644 wait 30-40 minutes to get through only to be thwarted by inexperienced staff, refusing to answer, quoting DPA and GDPR as reasons for not wishing to engage; and
e) When frustrated landlords don't hear anything they invariably add to DWP's admin mountain by making another or mutiple online requests; and
f) When the outcome is favourable rarely does DWP provide the promised confirmation of the award and start date; and
f) When refused, DWP provides a rather vague letter, referring to 3 possible reasons why the APA was refused. Last week I pursued 2 such responses, only to find the landlords'application should have been allowed. Why was it refused - the Decision Maker reckoned he needed "explicit consent" before he could transfer HCE to landlord. Beggars belief!

Mick, in earlier posts, has refered to the frustrations landlords experience when trying to secure recompense for the losses they experience, only to find the process takes, on average 30-36 months, usually results in maladministration being accepted, but recompense being denied. This is a scandalous situation both in terms of the timescales and outcomes. It's also ridiculous when you consider, landlords are not even mentioned in the "Complaints Process" nor were they considered when DWP created an online complaints form, which asks for Nat Ins Nos and points complainants to how using their "journal" they can access info. None of this pertains to the position of landlords.

You'll not be surprised to hear, Social Landlords (councils & housing associations), who represent the vast majority of my clients, are treated differently. They have access to a landlord portal which notifies them as soon as a tenant makes a claim for UC. It also allows the SL to apply straight away to have the HCE redirected. Sharing of Information regualtions also allows DWP staff to share information about tenants more freely.

In my view, there is no justification for treating PRS landlords/agents any differently. This position may change in the future, but, in the meantime PRS landlords and the organisations that support them should be pressing the Government & DWP, for at least parity.... Read More