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Hi, grateful if anyone could give me some of their experience - I have a council tenant in my property. I have not recieved rent since Apr 2005 as the council stopped paying me because the tenant had given some false information about her housing benefit claim dating back 3 years ago, hence they stopped paying the rent that they had been paying to me. Two problems:
1. The council are now trying to recover overpayment of housing benefit from 3 years ago - anything I can do ? It amounts to some £5000!
2. How do I get the tenant out and get rental arrears from the tenant without incurring massive legal costs ? I was thinking local council courts but don't know what paperwork they expect. I have written letters to the tenant quoting Section 21 and 8 and giving notice but had no response from them.
Please don't suggest talking to the tenant - I have tried this since Apr, have been spun many yarns and now simply want the tenant out. They of course have access to free legal aid (courtesy of our Govt) but I don't.
10-12-2005, 09:53 AM
You've received no rent since April and you are only taking action now? :eek:
You don't give much detaiul about the notice you issued, but a Section 8, Ground 8 for rent arrears of greater than 2 months can be issued. Once it expires (after 14 days) you can apply to the local County Court. If you've filled out the forms correctly you will get a hearing, anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks later. At the hearing, if the arrears is still more than 2 months you ask for possession forthwith and will be granted. This usually means 14 days.
If you think the tenant is likely to turn iup and blame HB, and say it is still being sorted, you need proof that it has been sorted, otherwise the judge may adjourn the hearing, pending HB being sorted.
Once you are granted possession, after the 14 day period you apply to bailiffs to remove the tenant, which can be another 6 week wait.
Not a quick process but that's the legal way.
10-12-2005, 17:44 PM
The rules and procedures for all local authorities prevent them from claiming such payments back from landlords UNLESS the landlord concealed information he held which would invalidate the tenant's claim from the council concerned. A few years ago, councils were permitted to persue landlords in this way and as they are easier to persue than debt ridden tenants, some councils still try it on. You should appeal immediately.
I have pasted below some further information which I have kept on my hard disk for a number of years. It may have come from this site and regrettably I now have no knowledge of the author to give it appropriate acknowledgement, but it came from a course run for landlord members of the RLA:
2 reasons for overpayment of HB
1) Council made an error, eg the claimant came off benefit but HB still paid. This is an "Official Error" and is covered by Regulation 99, you're in the clear
2) the claimant made a fraudulent application e.g was out of work, recently got a job, didn't tell, HB still paid. This is covered by S14, Social Sec Admin (Fraud) Act 1997, and Para A7.25 and Para A7.38 of the Housing Benefit and Ouncil Tax Benefit Guidance Manual which places the blame for this squarely at the claimant's feet and requires the council to investigate the overpayment with the claimant first.
In either case, if you receive a letter about overpayment, if it does not mention an Appeals process, it is not an official notice and they're trying it on. If it does mention an appeals process, you'd be best advised to seek help asap as there is a clock running (i think about 3-4 weeks) for you to appeal and get your facts sorted.
The key thing is to make sure that it doesn't happen in the first place e.g. if you go round to fix a HB tenant's tap, and you cant gain access because he's out at work, inform the council.
The other thing is to go on the course, it's enabled me to manage HB tenants far more effectively
I hope the above is of use, and I apologise to the original poster for not acknowledging the source of this very useful bit of information.
10-12-2005, 19:34 PM
It is quite feasible and proper for a tenant to be out at work and still be eligible for claiming housing benefit!! The absence of a tenant does not require a report to the housing benefits authority unless the landlord has reason to believe he/she no longer lives at the rented property. Temporary absence for a holiday, a course, prison (short sentence), dealing with a sick relative are all perfectly proper reasons for not being at home and do not impact on housing benefit/lha.
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