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jim hare
04-07-2005, 14:16 PM
I rent a flat under an AST to a single woman.She has been claiming HB which I have been receiving directly.Recently her boyfriend moved in (without my knowledge).He is now trying to claim HB as well.He has told the council that they are now both tenants and the council have even been around to inspect 'his' bedroom.This has to come to light as he did ask me if he could become a tenant just before the man from the council came round to inspect the property and expected me to confirm his story.I refused but he went ahead anyway.I am in the middle of trying to repossess the property (s21 has just expired) so I cannot take on another tenant anyway.What can I do to mitigate my potential losses?Any advice is welcomed.

davidjohnbutton
04-07-2005, 15:42 PM
If this boyfriend is unable to produce anything which confirms that he has a tenancy (i.e. agreement/rent book/you confirming) HB will be refused. There must be a libility to pay rent for HB to be awarded.

Continue with the repossession procedure, and name him as one of the occupants of the property. You would issue the summons in the name of the tenant proper and put in the paperwork that the boyfriend has moved in with her - it will not affect the possesion procedure as the bailiffs, if it comes to that, will evict everyone in the house when they execute the warrant of possession.

You might just advise the HB department of this attempt and your refusal to allow this boyfriend as a tenant.

MrWoof
04-07-2005, 15:49 PM
As you have already served an S21 and are presumably about to take court action, all you need to do is inform HB, verbally and backed up with a letter that he is not a tenant and is staying there without your permission. Tell them as well that you have served a possession notice on her and are waiting for her to leave, they will continue HB payments until she leaves (in practice, unless she leaves on a Saturday, they pay up to the last Saturday she occupies the premises). Your only potential loss is if she tells HB that she no longer wishes to claim, then, you get nothing and will have to try to get it from her via the small claims court.

jim hare
04-07-2005, 17:07 PM
David John Button - Thanks.I will definitely include his name as an occupant.

Mr Woof - Thanks I have concluded that I must inform the council to avoid getting into trouble myself.I will do so in writing as well.My worry is not that the 'proper' tenant will tell the council to stop payment but that the council will notice the altered circumstances and stop payment themselves.

Anyway thanks to both you for your sound advice.

jim hare
08-07-2005, 19:19 PM
Hi just an update.Things have got worse.Housing benefit payments have stopped and the council are demanding council tax from me.The reason for this is that they have received two new tenancy agreements for both the 'proper' tenant and the extra 'tenant'.They now have the flat down as a multiple occupancy property hence the council tax demand. I have spoken to the woman who is the bona fide tenant and she insists she knew nothing about it.My signature has been forged on both these agreements which I have never seen.I have told all this to the council who have cancelled the bogus claim and have passed details to their fraud team.I doubt whether the tenant will confirm that her boyfriend was lying about the tenancy as she has refused to sign a letter stating that she is the only tenant.I am now eager to get rid of both of them as soon as possible.Is it likely that the judge will grant a hearing based on these forged tenancy agreements?Can I do anything to pre-empt this on the accelerated claim form?Also is it possible that the judge will actually uphold these tenancy agreements (the term on them is 12 months from May 05)?The boyfriend (who has convictions for fraud) boasted that it took 12 months to evict him at his previous address.Any advice please.

MrWoof
08-07-2005, 19:52 PM
I would say continue with the possession proceedings but also inform police. Its likely that you need legal advice on this one too. If you decide to get advice, make sure that the solicitor is experienced in this type of action.

davidjohnbutton
08-07-2005, 20:14 PM
I concur with Mr. Woof. Carry on with the possession process and put a rider in with the papers as to what has happened together with the police crime reference so that if these new tenancy agreements are produced, the judge can deal with accordingly (and of course a fresh offence of attempted deception arises!!!)

jim hare
08-07-2005, 21:27 PM
David John Button,Mr Woof - Thanks for your prompt and helpful advice but will the police be interested in a housing benefit case?The council have passed it to their Fraud team so how can I obtain a crime reference number?Sorry if this all sounds a bit thick to you.

davidjohnbutton
08-07-2005, 21:54 PM
Report it to the police as a crime of attempted deception and forgery. Insist the police give you a crime reference or incident number. Whether or not they investigate it, they still have to log the complaint.

Use that reference number to show the status of the criminal element to the county court judge when/if the forged tenancy agreements are produced.

jim hare
10-07-2005, 10:54 AM
David John Button - Thanks again I haven't taken your advice yet vis a vis going to the police but I will.

There has been an improvement in the situation.The tenant has signed a letter (drafted by me) saying that there has been no new tenancy agreement with her and that the terms and conditions of the original agreement are still in force.It also states that she occupies the property exclusively.In retrospect this is a confusing wording as the intention was to get her to state that she is the only permanent resident ie her boyfriend does not live there.I have found out that her boyfriend has no permanent address and is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance at this address as well.He does go and stay with his cousin now and again.I will continue with the possession proceedings as suggested (thanks everyone) but I still have concerns regarding rent and council tax payments.

The section 21 expired just over a week ago so any payment now is 'mesne' profit I believe.There are two possible scenarios regarding benefit payment.Firstly the tenant will sort things out and housing benefit and council tax benefit will be restored.Secondly (and possibly realistically) there will be no more housing benefit or council tax benefit paid.As the tenancy is over (as s21 has expired) who is liable for council tax payments?I would welcome the advice of any experts out there (including those who have been so helpful so far).

davidjohnbutton
10-07-2005, 14:50 PM
The tenant or occupier is liable for council tax payments and you as the landlord can never le liable as long as the property is not either a HMO (House in Multiple occupation) or empty (in which case there is an "empty" allowance from the local authority depending on local policy - sometimes 3 months at zero rate, sometimes 6 months at zero rate).

jim hare
10-07-2005, 16:58 PM
Thank you David John Button for all your prompt and helpful replies.I now feel well equipped to deal with the situation.The tenant may persuade her boyfriend to move out if she is faced with a council tax bill she cannot afford to pay.Thanks also to Mr Woof.I will post the outcome for anyone who has been following this thread.