Tenant in arrears, now trying to claim housing benefit

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    Tenant in arrears, now trying to claim housing benefit

    Evening all

    My tenant moved in to the house at the end of March, she payed the first 3 months rent (1st month in advance) without problems, but I've not had anything from her since the end of May so she now owes 3 months rent.

    When she moved in she was in full time employment and she was reference/credited checked successfully by the agent. I also took out rental/legal insurance at this time.

    The case has been passed to the rental/legal insurance people, they have issued a Section 8 notice against the tenant which expired at the end of August. They have also arranged for someone to visit the tenant to investigate why she has not payed the rent. She claims that her employer failed to pay her salary on numerous occasions which is why she couldn't pay the rent previously, and that she has now left her job and that she is about to claim Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit.

    Does the fact that she is intending to apply for benefits affect my ability to have her evicted under Section 8 ground 8? I don't know how long it takes to apply for/receive benefits, but she already owes over £2000 and I'd rather get her out and get a more reliable tenant in sooner rather than later.

    She has 2 young children - would this affect the decision of the judge when evicting under S8 G8 (I would hope not as this is a mandatory ground)?

    If she does stay and begins receiving housing benefits, does this affect my ability to terminate the tenancy under a S21 and the end of the fixed term?

    Thanks in advance

    #2
    Originally posted by yod9999 View Post
    Evening all

    My tenant moved in to the house at the end of March, she payed the first 3 months rent (1st month in advance) without problems, but I've not had anything from her since the end of May so she now owes 3 months rent.

    When she moved in she was in full time employment and she was reference/credited checked successfully by the agent. I also took out rental/legal insurance at this time.

    The case has been passed to the rental/legal insurance people, they have issued a Section 8 notice against the tenant which expired at the end of August. They have also arranged for someone to visit the tenant to investigate why she has not payed the rent. She claims that her employer failed to pay her salary on numerous occasions which is why she couldn't pay the rent previously, and that she has now left her job and that she is about to claim Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit.

    Does the fact that she is intending to apply for benefits affect my ability to have her evicted under Section 8 ground 8? I don't know how long it takes to apply for/receive benefits, but she already owes over £2000 and I'd rather get her out and get a more reliable tenant in sooner rather than later.

    She has 2 young children - would this affect the decision of the judge when evicting under S8 G8 (I would hope not as this is a mandatory ground)?

    If she does stay and begins receiving housing benefits, does this affect my ability to terminate the tenancy under a S21 and the end of the fixed term?

    Thanks in advance
    S8 is a mandatory ground, it doesn't matter if your tenant is on benefits or has children, the important thing is that she remains 2 months in arrears at the time of the hearing, a lot of tenants scupper this process by bringing in the arrears below two months.

    S21 is a no fault based procedure,just ensure you CORRECTLY serve the notice and you must also have protected the deposit in one of the tenancy deposit schemes, if you have done all this then you will get your property back, this process can take between 3 to 4 months.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by porridge View Post
      S21 is a no fault based procedure,just ensure you CORRECTLY serve the notice and you must also have protected the deposit in one of the tenancy deposit schemes, if you have done all this then you will get your property back, this process can take between 3 to 4 months.
      Thanks. I'm thinking about the S21 in case she does manage to get benefits/some other cash and brings the arrears under 2 months. I wouldn't want to get to the end of the fixed period of the tenancy and be unable to terminate it under an S21 because there's some special provision for benefits claimants.

      Ideally she'll be evicted under the S8, I'll receive all the missing rent (bar the 1 month excess) from the insurance, and they'll chase her for the missing rent on their behalf.

      However, I'm not sure what approach the insurers will take now that she's stated that she's going to claim benefits. They may decide that it's cheaper to get the money back this way, despite the fact it might take long for me to receive the missing rent, rather than going down the eviction route. Does anyone have experience of this?

      Cheers
      Last edited by yod9999; 04-09-2008, 20:49 PM. Reason: typo

      Comment


        #4
        Personally I would go along both routes, if S8 suceeds then you will get possession and be awarded a judgement, BUT BEWARE if she is going to be claiming benefits then you're unlikely to recoup the rent from her, but as you have got rent guarantee insurance then its your insurers who will lose out.

        The s21 is there as back up and as long as you have served notices correctly then you will get possession regardless of whether she is on benefits or not, any arrears will have to be dealt with seperately via the small claims route.

        Comment


          #5
          Will Housing Benefits give her the money to pay off the arrears? If they don't then even if she gets the money to pay each months rent she'll still be in arrears and still be in a position where she can be evicted.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by yod9999 View Post
            Will Housing Benefits give her the money to pay off the arrears? If they don't then even if she gets the money to pay each months rent she'll still be in arrears and still be in a position where she can be evicted.

            They won't give her more than she's entitled to, if she's had the money and spent it, then tough luck.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by porridge View Post
              They won't give her more than she's entitled to, if she's had the money and spent it, then tough luck.
              Don't understand the last comment porridge?

              If she's had the money . . . . ???

              OP, she will only get benefit from the date her claim was made.
              Ambition is Critical

              I don't profess to be a knowledge in all areas, my advice is based on life experience.

              Comment


                #8
                1. It is highly likely that your insurer will have a clause regarding HB. It usually says that they will give the tenant time to make the claim and they will NOT make up the difference on the rent. This seems to be quite a standard thing so check it out.

                2. The idea that so long as the tenant is 2 months in arrears at the hearing means you will suceed with the Section 8 is sadly not the case - believe me I know.

                I have now had two hearings adjourned even though more than two months rent was owed at each one. I am actually owed five months rent but that is another story. Each time the tenant has turned up to the hearing and he's a nice guy. He tells the judge how he has been unwell and can't work. He says that HB should be paying more than they are. He says he wants to clear his arrears. Basically he gives a very good sob story and the judge adjourns the case each time. I don't think judges are willing to make people homeless if at all possible especially if children are involved.

                If your tenant defends the case do not be suprised if you find yourself in the same position I am in.

                i am now waiting for the section 21 to come into effect.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Kathryn View Post
                  1. It is highly likely that your insurer will have a clause regarding HB. It usually says that they will give the tenant time to make the claim and they will NOT make up the difference on the rent. This seems to be quite a standard thing so check it out.

                  2. The idea that so long as the tenant is 2 months in arrears at the hearing means you will suceed with the Section 8 is sadly not the case - believe me I know.

                  I have now had two hearings adjourned even though more than two months rent was owed at each one. I am actually owed five months rent but that is another story. Each time the tenant has turned up to the hearing and he's a nice guy. He tells the judge how he has been unwell and can't work. He says that HB should be paying more than they are. He says he wants to clear his arrears. Basically he gives a very good sob story and the judge adjourns the case each time. I don't think judges are willing to make people homeless if at all possible especially if children are involved.

                  If your tenant defends the case do not be suprised if you find yourself in the same position I am in.

                  i am now waiting for the section 21 to come into effect.
                  Sorry to hear about your troubles. I've checked the insurance policy and you're correct, there is a clause in the insurance regarding HB. It states that if her claim is successful they will not make up any shortfall between the amount paid as HB and the rent. Not sure what will happen to the arrears however.

                  I now have to fill in and return a form to the insurance company to continue the claim. One of the questions on the form is "has the tenant applied for or in receipt of Housing Benefit?". The people that visited her stated in their report that she is about to claim HB, but I have no proof that she's actually done this. How long does a HB claim normally take, and do you think I could ask for proof that the HB claim has been initiated? If I tick yes in answer to the question above then they're obviously going to stop my claim until her HB claim is sorted.

                  Cheers

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If she is "about to claim HB" then she hasn't "applied for or in receipt of HB" (yet) so the answr is no. "About to claim" sounds as possible as "the cheque is in the post" both may be true, but now or in the future?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The insurers are not going to rush to pay you anything so you might as well tell them about the HB claim as they will find out from the tenant anyway.The clause probably says they will allow the tenant time to sort their HB claim out and that could be weeks.

                      She may have already made the claim and received some HB and spent it on something else, nothing unusual about that. You will never see that money if she has.

                      Will HB pay the arrears? Who knows? Probably not unless you are going to agree to keep her in the house.

                      Check on your local council and see if it is HB or LHA that applies here.Contact them directly and inform them the tenant is more than two months in arrears. They must then pay you directly. They will not discuss the claim with you so be prepared to be told that due to Data Protection they can not give you any information. They can't ignore the information you have given them though.

                      Good luck but don't hold your breath because the chances of getting the arrears are slim. Your insurer should cover your legal costs regarding possession but remember, if she is on HB and paying you something and even if she is two months in arrears you might not be able to get her out that quickly. The HB she is getting may be well below the rent and your insurer will not pay you that difference.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks again for the replies. I spoke to the insurance company (who were very helpful) and they said that as she didn't/couldn't provide a HB reference number then as far as they were concerned the case could continue as if she wasn't claiming HB.

                        As silvercar said, claiming that she's going to apply for HB means nothing. Hopefully I might get some money out of the insurance company to cover the arrears. I'm less hopefully now than I was yesterday of getting her evicted under S8 G8 based on Kathryns story though.

                        Kathryn - would you recommend contacting the local authority straight away, or waiting until I know that she has applied for HB? I would think that if I contact them before she has applied they won't have any records to add the information that I supply to.

                        Cheers

                        Comment


                          #13
                          My tenant told me he was "going to claim HB" when his rent was about 3 months in arrears. I found out that he had been claiming all along and using the money for something else.

                          if I had two children and no income I would have been to HB immediately - only I would have paid my rent - in order to keep a roof over their heads.

                          My advice would be to contact the Council. Tell them you believe the tenant is claiming HB. Provide proof that the rent is 2 months in arrers and ask that the HB be paid directly to you. Them wait and see what happens.

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