Housing Benefit with 2 months arrears

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  • Housing Benefit with 2 months arrears

    I have a tenant who appears to have been claiming Housing Benefit (without my knowledge) and not passing it on to me, she is now more than 2 months in arrears. I wrote to the HB office asking them to pay me direct but they replied that they would contact the tenant and there were three possible outcomes.
    1. Tenant does not reply; HB pay me direct.
    2. Tenant replies with permission; HB pay me direct.
    3. Tenant refuses permission; neither of us get anything as HB treat it as a landlord/tenant dispute.
    If (3) happens, is there any way I can get any money, small claims is a waste of time in this case. I have already served notice and the forms are with the court.

  • #2
    I had the same situation - told council and they wrote to tenant. As I understand it they suspend the HB from the point you inform them about the arrears and don't pay it to anyone. I had to push and ring up a lot but finally they began to pay me backdated to the the date I told them about the arrears. I think that if you can prove the arrears they have to pay you? Beware what happened to me - when they did move out (on the day of the court hearing under section 8) they told the council that they had gone a week earlier. It took me 4 months to get the final week's payment but I did in the end!
    Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me


    • #3
      If number 3 happens - the council will, as you say, treat it as a landlord/tenant dispute BUT they cannot simply not pay the money out - they will have to make a decision as to whom to pay it to.

      If you are able to prove 2 months rent arrears, then they must pay it to you under HB regulations. The only fly in the ointment is that the tenant may say he/she has a counter claim against you for £x amount. The council will have to make the decision based on whom they think is correct or whether or not the tenants counterclaim is frivolous.

      Serve a S8 notice immediately and keep the council's HB department advised. This will put pressure on with the tenant to accord to your request for future payments to you, and secondly on the council to avoid the tenant being able to claim that they (the council) have made the tenant homeless because they withheld HB from both tenant and landlord. If you have a condition in your tenancy agreement for interest to be added - impose it!


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies, I can demonstrate 2 months arrears and the S21 is with the court now, having been served last September so a S8 should be unnecessary, she has one more week to file a reason for extra time. She has already applied for council housing, I'll keep you posted on the result of that since by the council's own rules she will be intentionally homeless. A tenant not paying rent is intentionally homeless unless they are in receipt of HB and it is a top up they are not paying. This one has received HB and still not paid rent, should be a foregone conclusion but she has five children, all below school age.


        • #5
          and 5 kids means 5 lots of child benefit as well as 5 top ups with income support or add ons for Incapactity Benefit etc.

          Why do these sort of people dig a big hole for themselves, fill it with brown stuff and then dive in head first?

          This thread precisely illustrates why spending HB on anything other than housing costs should be made an offence and its also why I am opposed to the expansion of LHA!


          • #6
            Hope things are soon resolved for you MrWoof and look forward to reading the updates.
            Vic - wicked landlord
            Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
            Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.


            • #7
              Looks like she is staying on for bailiffs. Once the date the court gives has passed, can I enter and change the locks if the house is temporarily unoccupied as in gone to the shops or must I pay for bailiffs and wait until she has obviously gone for good?


              • #8
                Your safest bet is to always use the bailiffs UNLESS she has apparently left the premises by the date named in the court order.

                You run the risk of being arrested for breach of the peace by the police if you attempt the eviction yourself by the changing of locks even after the court date has passed.

                Search my previous posts for guidance on what to do/take with you when attending evictions.


                • #9
                  The old 8 week rule about landlords only getting money directly from councils when the benefit tenant is at least 8 weeks in arrears is a load of rubbish. It was superceded by the government circular HB/CTB A26/2009 in 2009. Since 2009 if a benefit tenant is just ONE day late in paying over the rent to the landlord the Council Benefit Department must now pay the landlord the rent directly. So if one of these idiot council benefit team members starts talking about the 8 week rule print off this circular and go and shove it to them where the sun don't shine as they are in breach of government guidelines. Also, demand any rent which they should have been paying to you because they have been too lazy to read the government new circular.


                  • #10
                    This thread is 5 years old!
                    I'm a good tenant with great landlords
                    I'm also a living, breathing, fully cooked female.


                    • #11
                      yes but if post 9 is correct it is very useful info!
                      Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me


                      • #12
                        copy n paste of the relevant part of circular A26/2009:

                        The eight week rule
                        12 The LA must pay HB to the landlord where the tenant is in arrears by an amount equivalent to eight weeks’ rent unless it is in the overriding interest of the tenant not to make direct payment to the landlord.
                        (HB regulation (95(1)(b))
                        13 There is no definition in regulations as to how the eight weeks’ arrears should be calculated but we included a note in the original LHA guidance to the effect that the ‘DWP takes the view that a person cannot be in arrears in respect of a period that has not yet been served.’
                        14 In a recent appeal tribunal (Doncaster v Coventry City Council, First Tier Tribunal 032/09/00932, 5 October 2009) the Chairman expressed the view that ‘Rent is in arrears once the contractual date for payment has passed irrespective of whether rent is due in advance or in arrear’. A number of you have asked us to clarify the Department’s position.
                        15 The intention behind HB regulation 95(1)(b) is to provide landlords with the security of direct payment as an alternative to seeking possession on a mandatory ground and so avoid a situation arising where a tenant is evicted under Housing legislation. In view of this, we have consulted with lawyers at Communities and Local Government to establish at what point they consider a tenant to be in arrears of eight weeks. As they are also of the view that rent is in arrears once the date for payment has passed without any payment being made, we have revised the LHA guidance so that it is consistent with this position.

                        Please remember this is GUIDANCE. NOT the LAW (see item 12 above). the LAW says 8 weeks in arrears. Historically DWP "guidance" has not always been in accordance with the law. In this case though, most Local Authorities agree with the new guidance, and a polite letter to the HB section detailing the arrears, and your opinion of the likelihood of payments being passed on will give the desired result. So will keeping your HB office on side and informed. If we don't know there might be a problem, we can't help you.
                        The above is my opinion only and does not represent a response from my employers.


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