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AnitaG
06-06-2005, 10:24 AM
Hi :) Have just found this forum after extensively searching the internet for help! Hope someone here can give me some advice.

We (me, hubs & 3 kids) have rented this property for 4 years, initially on a 12 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy then as a periodic.

We are now in financial difficulties (hopefully temporary) and have found out we are entitled to £500/month Housing Benefit (3 months ago we were entitled to full rent of £750/month) which we cannot claim as we do not have a written Tenancy Agreement. Council will not take previous agreement as proof of rental as it is dated over 4 years ago.

LL is reluctant to issue us with a written agreement and we are now in arrears (of over 8 weeks). We have managed to pay the full rent for this month and last month but cannot pay off any of the arrears as the rent is taking 3/4 of our income. It is now nearly 4 months since I asked for a written agreement so I have already lost £2000 in benefit as this cannot be backdated.

LL has demanded the shortfall of the rent (over £1500) upfront before he will issue us with a written agreement. Obviously if i had this kind of money I would have already paid it to him towards the arrears. He asked for this on the 31st May 2005 and wanted it paid on 1st June 2005.

If he goes for an eviction, the council has informed us that they are not obliged to rehouse us as we are making ourselves voluntarily homeless by not claiming HB. We will not be able to move as we are in arrears and another LL will not give us a tenancy because of this. I feel that I'm in a vicous circle and can't see any way out of it.

Is there anything I can do?

Andy Parker
06-06-2005, 11:45 AM
In Birmingham the council accept a letter from the landlord setting out the details of the tenancy as sufficient proof.This would get around your LL having to give you another fixed-term agreement.

AnitaG
06-06-2005, 12:08 PM
Thanks for the reply Andy, unfortunately it's a written Tenancy Agreement or nothing!

I have already queried this with the housing office. LL initially asked for a PTD which we had done confirming that they would count 100% of the rent when calculating benefit. He then asked for a written quote on how much benefit we would be entitled to, this the council dont do - verbal estimates only which are not guaranteed in any way! When I informed LL of this, he didnt believe me and I had to get Housing Office to email me this info which I passed on to him. He then came to the Housing Office with me so he could hear how much I was entitled to. This is where he has worked out his figure of the shortfall in the rent.

While we were there, he confirmed everything i had told him including the necessity of a written agreement.

davidjohnbutton
06-06-2005, 12:52 PM
Once you have a written decision from the housing benefits - appeal against it - the council will have to acknowledge the existence of a statutory periodic tenancy (or at best, a tenancy involving your occupation of xyz property in between the last written agreement and to date). HB is based on a liability to pay which does of course exist. I think you will be successful in an appeal because I think the HB office have got it wrong.

As to your landlord, write a letter asking him for a written tenancy agreement and point out that until he does this, you cannot obtain your housing benefit in full for the period in question and will accordingly defend any court claim he brings* on the basis that you are owed HB which he is effectively preventing you receiving. (* you would not be able to defend a S21 process this way - that is the process where landlord gives you two months notice that he wishes to recover property)

Go see your local CAB or Welfare rights officer at the council and ask for their help.

AnitaG
06-06-2005, 14:44 PM
Once you have a written decision from the housing benefits - appeal against it - the council will have to acknowledge the existence of a statutory periodic tenancy (or at best, a tenancy involving your occupation of xyz property in between the last written agreement and to date). HB is based on a liability to pay which does of course exist. I think you will be successful in an appeal because I think the HB office have got it wrong.

Thanks for your reply :) I can't appeal a decision because they won't process my application. From what I can gather, they have brought in these policies to try and combat benefit fraud so my last written agreement was just too long ago for them to accept.


As to your landlord, write a letter asking him for a written tenancy agreement and point out that until he does this, you cannot obtain your housing benefit in full for the period in question and will accordingly defend any court claim he brings* on the basis that you are owed HB which he is effectively preventing you receiving. (* you would not be able to defend a S21 process this way - that is the process where landlord gives you two months notice that he wishes to recover property)

I asked him for one months ago and he is finally willing to give me one on condition that I pay the shortfall in rent up front, this comes to £1500 which I dont have and dont stand a chance of getting while i'm paying out 3/4 of my income on rent.


Go see your local CAB or Welfare rights officer at the council and ask for their help.

I am going to see the Housing Aid Officer again but have been so many times I am on first name terms with most of the Counter staff :D They are finding it difficult because they have never had a case of a LL preventing a tenant from claiming their benefit before They just keep telling me to ask for a written agreement. :rolleyes:

MrWoof
06-06-2005, 16:28 PM
We (me, hubs & 3 kids) have rented this property for 4 years, initially on a 12 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy then as a periodic........................... we do not have a written Tenancy Agreement. Council will not take previous agreement as proof of rental as it is dated over 4 years ago.

LL is reluctant to issue us with a written agreement An AST automatically goes into a periodic tenancy at the end of the term, no further agreement is necessary, if you or the LL have the original agreement then I don't see that the council have any choice but to accept it. Follow David Button's advice re CAB and council Welfare, if you still get no joy, seek legal advice (this should be available through CAB).

davidjohnbutton
06-06-2005, 17:00 PM
If you have a notification saying that HB will not process your application, then that, in itself, is a decision upon which you can base an appeal.

My point was that if you have an earlier written agreement, and you are still in the same property without an agreement, you are thus a periodic tenant. Your landlord would not suddenly remove your liability for rent because the written agreement had run out and this is why I think the HB office have got the decision wrong and why you should appeal. Have you tried speaking to a senior person like the HB office manager and asking for the decision to be looked at again? If not, do so.

davidjohnbutton
06-06-2005, 17:03 PM
Oh and they don't have to have a written agreement in order to consider you liable to pay rent on a property - a rent book will do as will usually a letter from your landlord - again, if they decide otherwise, you could ask them what other evidence of a tenancy would they accept under the Verification Framework.

AnitaG
06-06-2005, 18:36 PM
Thank you all for your help and advice :) I'm going to the Housing Aid people tomorrow morning and seeing the LL in the afternoon so hopefully will get a solution somewhere!

I dont have a rent book either :( I think this is where the problem is, I have to prove I am still renting :rolleyes: You should see what they want to prove that I have 3 children :eek: wont be long before its DNA certificates..