A 99-year-old tenant and her 75-year-old autistic daughter are celebrating after winning an appeal to receive Housing Benefit.
Their local council had refused to award the benefit because the landlord is their granddaughter, making the relationship non-commercial – despite the fact they had an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.
Before making their claim, the joint tenants had lived in a small Housing Association property, which opened onto a busy road and there had been instances of the door being left open and uninvited strangers getting in. It was also a good 30 minutes’ drive from other family members.
The granddaughter’s property was much closer to their family, so she contacted the council where an officer told her he thought that the award amount would be restricted and wouldn’t cover the contractual rent of £1,200. However, as both tenants were receiving DLA, the family was confident the gap could be bridged.
When their claim was turned down, Bill Irvine at UC Advice appealed on their behalf. He says the issue of refusing family-related tenancies is rife, both with councils and the DWP. He adds: “I wrote to the council’s chief executive…and was also hopeful that by drawing his attention to the age and circumstances of the appellants, he would intervene.”
By also sending the council an upper-tier tribunal decision and DWP guidance, Irvine’s strategy worked, and two days’ later, the council had revised its decision, agreeing to cover all the contractual rent. “I had asked the council to pay each the three-bed rate, as they were operating a ‘common household’ with the need for an extra bedroom to allow overnight carer stays,” he adds.