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Snowbed
09-06-2005, 10:03 AM
As a follow on to my previous thread.

If a fraudulent claim for housing benefit has been made by the tenant and this comes to light at some time in the future, what happens?

Obviously, the tenant is the one who has committed the offence, but will the benefits people request the money back from me (the Landlord)?

Will it make any difference that the money has been paid direct to me, rather than direct to the tenant who then passes it on to me?

Logic tells me that this is nothing to do with the Landlord and the Housing benefits section and any claim for a reimbursement of the wrongly paid benefit will be made against the tenant.

Any advice would be highly appreciated

ngadef
09-06-2005, 12:10 PM
I'm worried about this as well

My tenant was over paid & I received the money
Directly from HB and they wanted to take me to court

So I had to negotiate with them & my tenant
Who gave me the money & I gave it back to them

RichieP
09-06-2005, 12:38 PM
From my dealings with HB this used to happen quite a lot. The first thing they will do is to try to take the money from you. You need to claim that you accepted the money in good faith, and that you cannot be expected to vet the validity of any HB claim made.
They are going for the easy option, trying to claim from the landlord. If the tenant has claimed fraudently, it is their responsibilty to pay the money back. If HB write to you asking for the money, appeal against the decision.

Snowbed
09-06-2005, 12:47 PM
Thanks Guys

Richie - so what you are saying is that they will inevitably try to recover it via the easy option (requesting the Landlord repays it), however if you decline there is nothing they can do about it?

If the worst came to the worst, would they try to recover it from you (the landlord) via the courts? If so would they succeed or is the law on your side?

Thanks again in advance for any replies

ngadef
09-06-2005, 13:55 PM
I got a standard letter from them abou my responsibilities

I'm pretty sure that as long as you act in good faith there's nothing they can do to you

I'll try to look it out tonight

Tax Accountant
09-06-2005, 15:02 PM
Hi Snowbed,

It was I who replied to your previous post and made you aware that the Housing Benefit paid directly to a landlord can be recovered from the landlord if it transpires that the tenant was not entitled to some or all the Housing Benefits paid.

As far as I am aware, there is a law which states that the HB is entitled to reclaim the money from the person to whom it was paid in the first place. There is also a law which states that the HB may decide not to recover the money from the person to whom it is paid, the landlord.

It is not always plain sailing to argue against the HB people and to convince them that they should not pursue you for the recovery.

However, the point is that you should be aware of the possibility. And you should consider what steps you could take to protect yourself in the event of you having to repay some or all of the HB paid to you. It may be that there is nothing that you could do. If so, all you can do is hope for the best.

It is better that the future HB is paid directly to the tenant and then the tenant pays the rent to you. However, the tenant may collect the HB and not pass over the rent to you. To proceed with this suggestion, you must be reasonably certain that the tenant could be relied on to pass the rent to you. You do have the excess rent in your hands to act as a cushion against any future unpaid rent by the tenant. I would certainly take this route if I were you.

There is no easy answer, but such is the life of landlords.

Ramnik

ngadef
09-06-2005, 15:27 PM
Sounds right to me

The HB my tenant claimed for was being paid to me
So it was me that they asked the money back from

My other tenant is getting paid directly £75pw
And she has not passed it on to me for 10 weeks

So it's swings & round abouts

RichieP
09-06-2005, 16:19 PM
They will try to take it from you but you have the right to appeal and take it to the Ombudsman if necessary. It's their slack procedures or error that has allowed the payment to happen.

If your other tenant owes more than 8 weeks rent, you can request that HB pay you directly.

Ericthelobster
09-06-2005, 18:34 PM
I'm worried about this as well

My tenant was over paid & I received the money
Directly from HB and they wanted to take me to court

So I had to negotiate with them & my tenant
Who gave me the money & I gave it back to them

Is this one of those haikus or something? ;)

Snowbed
09-06-2005, 20:44 PM
This is really a problem for me now. I think i'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, just when i thought i was winning for once as well. :eek:

If it is a fraudulent claim ( i don't know if it is or isn't as i don't know the criteria for such claims) then not only have i got to worry about what has already been paid to me, but also all future monthly payments. Thus i could find myself 12 months down the line having to pay back not only the last 12 months that i have already received, but also the next 12 monthly payments.

Thus even if i hold back the overpayment due to the tenant, i could well find myself having to repay all the other benefit received; the end result being the tenants will have had 12 months living rent free in my property (plus the time it will take to evict them)

Has anybody out there had first hand experience of this same situation where the Housing Benefits have demanded the money from you (the Landlord) and you have refused to repay them (when the money has been paid direct to you rather than via the tenant). If so how was the situation resolved?

A definitive answer (if there is one) i would imagine would be useful to alot of people on here.

Thanks to all those who have already replied

MrWoof
09-06-2005, 20:53 PM
It may be different in different areas but my local council have changed their policy, they told me it was due to a change in the law. In the past, HB paid as a result of a fraudulent claim could be and was taken back from the recipient (tenant or landlord if paid direct). This has now changed (I speak from personal experience), as long as the landlord is unaware of any wrongdoing, there is no longer a claim against the LL for benefits paid.

Snowbed
09-06-2005, 22:19 PM
Thanks Mr Woof

I must admit i am slightly worried the claim could be fraudulent. Mum & Dad, Son and Daughter all living in the house. Mum & Dad pensioners, son (worked for part of period the claim was for) and daughter (worked for all of the period the claim was for). Now i know that the council knew that mother, father and son lived there (they wrote to me and asked what date mother and father moved into the property with their son), however i have my suspicions that the daughter is not officially living there.

I have no evidence this is right, just a gut feeling. Can it be possible that full HB could be claimed and back dated to the moving in date if the council knew all 4 people lived there?

ngadef
10-06-2005, 09:24 AM
Ericthelobster

I can't help writing like this
It's my internet style ;)

RichieP

Yes I know about the 8 week rule
But I'm reluctant to get involved

I should be getting most of the money
When my tenant comes back next week

Mr Woof

That is great news :)

Snowbed
10-06-2005, 10:20 AM
Ok - an update

I have looked on the website for my borough council and it states

'We can pay your tenants Housing Benefit entitlement directly to yourself provided your tenant agrees or if they are more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent payments. Please note that if you accept direct payment from us we may require you to pay back money if your tenant recives housing benefit to which they are not entitled'

I have emailed the council asking them for clarification - I will post their response once i have it

Snowbed
10-06-2005, 12:52 PM
I've just had a telephone conversation with an officer from the local borough council.

The officer informed me that they would not seek recovery action against the landlord unless it was proven that the Landlord knew a fraudulent claim had been made. They said they would look at every individual case on its merit and that a test of 'reasonableness' would be applied. If they did suspect the landlord knew about a fraudulent claim then the end result would be both parties infront of a judge if neither side would back down.

She did say that different boroug councils have different ways of dealing with this and that many will automatically go after the Landlord becasue its the easy option. (she didn't use these words but was obviously implying this)

Hope this helps.