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.
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.
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.
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.