I am letting out my (two bedroom) flat for the first time (moving into rented accommodation elsewhere with my boyfriend).
I have been made an offer of my asking price by an single mother who is six months into her paid maternity leave. She plans to return to work in December. She will be claiming various benefits/allowances for the tenancy including housing benefit.
A family member has agreed to act as a rent guaranteur. I have met the tenant and her mother and my gut feeling is positive. However, my concerns are two-fold:
1. Am I in any way responsible for any fraudulent benefit claims (such as housing benefit). I have been told by other agents that the council *could* claim back any fraudulent/erroneous payments directly from me up to six years later. If this is the case I am not sure what I am expected to do to prevent this.
2. What are the risks to me with regards to late processing of my tenant's benefit claim.
I intend to take out legal and rent insurance, and I am carrying out referencing as we speak. The tenant/agent also assures me that due to this new housing benefit system I will not have any dealings with the council directly, instead benefit will be paid to the tenant who will subsequently pay me the contracted monthly rental.
I am not opposed to letting to someone receiving benefits, but from what I've read there seem to be a lot more complications in this route. This is my only property and I cannot really afford problems here.
Thanks for any help you can give me.