Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

£19.99 + £1.50 (P&P)

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Hi, I'm renting a property from private landlord. About six months ago my mother moved in and put her name on the tenancy. I received a letter last month that my HB and Council Tax were suspended due to new information. Having spoke to them they sent me another letter saying I owe them 1000 in overpaidicon HB and 1000 in overpaidicon CT because my mother didn't make a separate claim. I wasn't aware that she needed to make a separate claim as I thought that one person could claim for both or a family member in a household or that one person only needed to make a claim in a joint tenancy, and the people that were witnesses to the tenancy chance didn't mention it either. I pay all of the rent and all of the household bills, both mother and I are physically and mentally disabled. I'm on income support. My mother having made a claim now receives half of the HB, but because of her illness that won't go towards the rent in any case. I'm no longer in receipt of HB and CT (I don't know why, they didn't just reduce it). This leaves me in the situation of an income of about 380/month to pay over 1000+ of bills/month including the rent, which is just plain impossible, and I don't have any savings due to problems with relations and robbery. I don't know how they expect me to be able to manage, without going homeless on the street and thus not having to pay rent or council tax, and in that case would I even be eligible for income support?
    I don't know what I'm going to do as it's impossible for me to make a 620+/month deficit, I'm on income support. Even if I were receiving half of the HB and CT I would still be in a deficit, as the full rent and bills match full HB and IS easily. Our house phone has disappeared so getting in contact with anyone is more difficult. Any advice?


  2. #2
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    I have second question, where does it say in the rules for housing benefit that every person at an address must have a separate claim for housing benefit, etc? Is this a relatively new thing? - For example, in my cae it would be really ideal if all of the housing benefit etc was paid into my account, otherwise it's greatly increasing the chance that it won't go towards the rent. I've not seen where it is mandatory for everyone to have separate claims, are there situations where this is the case? It really confuses me, having tried to look this up, that the information isn't all in one place.
    ^ this is still less important than how I am going to deal with a 620/month deficit in the first place.


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Please, please help. My bills will be coming out of my account in less than a month's time, and it's going to send me past my overdrafticon with my bank. I don't have any means to get back out of an overdraft or from past one. Is there anywhere I can get some kind of financial support in this situation? What will happen if I'm unable to pay my bills in time? My credit history up until this point is really good, though at this point tarnishing that is the least of my problems. Pretty desperate here.


  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder SWLABR9 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Since I've happened along and no-one else has, my advice would be to see the CAB about this. Others will be along though


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder johnvernon74 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    My understanding is that only one of you can claim for housing benefit in the property. Who is the lease in the name off. If/when your mother added her name on then you are entitled to HB until that date. From the date of change in circumstances then you or your mother will claim the rent. Are you your mothers carer? If so then you may be entitled to a 2 bedroom rate. If not then possibly a discretionaty payment from the council. My understanding is that if to family members share the same house then only one can claim Housing Allowance.


  6. #6
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Thanks SWLABR9 and john.

    "My understanding is that only one of you can claim for housing benefit in the property". That's what I thought as well but they are telling me the exact opposite and that I have to pay the difference back (basically I should have been getting only half of the HB and CT and my mother the other half). The lease was originally in my name, then my mother put her name on in addition a few months ago. I'm caring for my mother I don't know if that makes me officially or unofficially her carer.

    "My understanding is that if two family members share the same house then only one can claim Housing Allowance.". Again, that was what I thought too, but when I went to speak to them and in the correspondence they've told me the exact opposite. They demand that the housing benefit be paid in two separate claims, and haven't backdated my mother's new claim, to the effect that I'm owing them about 3-6 months HB and Council Tax. Thus they've suspended my HB and CT (to pay it back).

    John, I've tried to look up the information that confirms the council's decision and position, but I haven't found any yet, and it's too complicated to see if I've found anything to the contrary. We both can't have had the same understandings from nothing though. Is there some documentation on this? but then, how can they possibly get something like this "wrong", if that makes sense?


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Is it a new thing? and if it's new, how new is it? I'm thinking if it's less than 6 months, then how they can charge me back for something that was under different rules at the time. Can they do that?
    I've tried googling different terms but I can't find any information anywhere about what two family members should do if they are both entitled to housing benefit does that mean that it is mandatory for two separate claims as they say?

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    my understanding has always been that to claim HB you have to be the tenant, you are not the tenant if your name is not on the tenancy agreement,

    So from where I sit the council have it right, but you really need proper legal advice on this.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Hi

    Could I just ask this for clarification - You were initially in the property claiming both HB & CTB, then your mother moved in and you contacted both HB & CTB offices and informed them of your "Change in Circumstances" but they continued to pay the same amount of HB & CTB. On noticing this error they are now trying to claimback the overpaymenticon


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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Hello disableddebbie

    Bills should be your last problem,you need to keep a roof over your head 1st

    I know it's difficult but your main problem at the moment is paying your Rent to private landlord !

    Are you still paying your rent,are you in arrears at all by how much and how many weeks ?

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    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by worried33 View Post
    my understanding has always been that to claim HB you have to be the tenant, you are not the tenant if your name is not on the tenancy agreement,

    So from where I sit the council have it right, but you really need proper legal advice on this.

    I'm afraid I don't follow you, do you refer to me or my mother? Both of our names are on the tenancy agreement, and my name has always been on the tenancy agreement.


  12. #12
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by stu007 View Post
    Hi

    Could I just ask this for clarification - You were initially in the property claiming both HB & CTB, then your mother moved in and you contacted both HB & CTB offices and informed them of your "Change in Circumstances" but they continued to pay the same amount of HB & CTB. On noticing this error they are now trying to claimback the overpaymenticon
    Yes
    No
    Yes
    Yes and no

    I didn't inform them of a change in circumstances, I didn't think about it at the time I was very sick and barely cognisant at the time of the tenancy change, I had a vague idea that the housing people would have sorted that part out for some reason. My mother said she contacted them. I'm not sure if they are claiming to have a record or no record of this. They might be treating it as not informing them. How much difference does that make, specifically, and what sort of position does that leave me in?

    They aren't claiming back an overpaymenticon with respect to "a person was living there so we assume they would pay towards the rent" - which I got from googling.

    They are claiming back I think at least half of the housing benefit and council tax paid to me, basically saying that I should only have been getting half and my mother the other half for the entire time. Which adds up to a considerable amount. They haven't actually been specific about what they are claiming back, but it comes to 1800 for a few months which seems like a lot to me, it's certainly more than I can reasonably afford, that's my total income for 5 months.


  13. #13
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by 45002 View Post
    Hello

    Bills should be your last problem,you need to keep a roof over your head 1st

    I know it's difficult but your main problem at the moment is paying your Rent to private landlord !

    Are you still paying your rent,are you in arrears at all by how much and how many weeks ?

    I don't know, I'm as much worried about paying the utility bills as I am about the rent, I have no way of contacting anyone at all if I lose those. The house phone is still missing, I don't have any cash on hand or in the bank, and with my physical disability it's difficult to get around.

    That said, the rent is paid up, I'm not in arrears, and my overdrafticon + the amount the bank will let me go below will cover me for a few weeks, however once I'm in that situation I don't have a way out and having less than zero cash is not a good place to be in when I'm in debt and on a low income, I'd prefer to not get to that point in the first place.
    After that point I will start to be in arrears and be unable to pay bills. I really don't want to be in debt twice or more, to my landlord, to the utilities, and to my bank as well. Keeping a roof over my head is less important to me than being in debt to everything without a chance of being able to pay anything off - I've never been in complete debt before so I don't know what will happen.


  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    To reiterate, right now my bills >= income, and my rent is much greater than my income. If I don't pay my bills, my income still doesn't cover my rent in any case, I will go into arrears if I don't pay any other bills. I can barely cover my bills, but then none of my rent gets paid. They both seem like big problems to me. I don't understand why they would want to take more money away from me when I'm barely getting by already.

    Update: checking my bank statement online and it appears they've just paid some money in. I can't tell what they've done exactly, and what this amount is supposed to be for, as I've received no correspondence from them about it. I haven't received HB for ~6 weeks or more. What I was receiving before would have been: 546.90 (182*3), what my bank statements shows is 264.96 (or 88.32*3), a difference of 281.94. Basically in those calculations I've assumed this amount is the new amount I'm supposed to receive immediately starting from when they suspended my housing benefit.

    If that continues I will be short an extra 187.36 a month towards the rent than I was before. My mother has very bad credit history, and won't be able to put her portion of any HB towards the rent costs. I'll have 176.64 of HB/month to pay a rent of approx 475+, which means that I have to make up an extra 300/month towards the rent somehow. How do I make up an extra 300/month towards rent when my income is 380.

    I can't see any reasonable means I can do this, even if I use my IS thats 300 out of 380 a month which leaves me 80/month to pay bills and get shopping? That seems impossible. Does anyone know why they insist on my mother having a separate HB and CT claim to myself?
    I could go to the trouble of asking my mother to have her part of the HB paid directly to the landlord but I can't see her agreeing to this and I can't force her. Do I have any other options?

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by disableddebbie View Post
    I'm afraid I don't follow you, do you refer to me or my mother? Both of our names are on the tenancy agreement, and my name has always been on the tenancy agreement.
    then I misunderstood you.

    however in that situation the council would probably only see you liable for half the rent not the full rent. Also her income would be taken into consideration, so eg. if she worked full time your benefit would be impacted I think.

    Been sick might be seen as a good reason for them to not take any kind of legal action ie. they see as accidental and not deliberate fraud, however it wont allow them to write it off.


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    Basic Account Holder SWLABR9 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    If you're vulnerable then they shouldn't be taking it back at that rate surely! They have to take into account your circumstances. You really do need legal advice on this from an expert. CAB for you.


  17. #17
    Basic Account Holder sparky514 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Have you got a social worker,? they maybe able to help you, also if your mother is getting HB she must give you that towards her portion of the rent surely.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    OK. As soon as your mother was a co-tenant, you could only claim HB for half of the rent - and she needed to claim for the other half as she has done. A better way would have been for your Mum to move in as a non-dependant and not be on the tenancy - but maybe this was a condition of the rental.

    What rate is the overpaymenticon being recovered at? Sometimes this can be negotiated if you are in hardship and may be a reason why you are not receiving the full amount of HB (half the rent).

    Regarding your Mum's HB - this is to be used to pay the rent. Why is it not being used for rent? Maybe the best way to manage this would be to change the bank account that your Mum's HB is paid into to yours - you would need her to sign a form to change the bank details, but it is perfectly acceptable to have benefits paid into a different named account.


  19. #19
    Basic Account Holder rainbo Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by disableddebbie View Post
    My mother has very bad credit history, and won't be able to put her portion of any HB towards the rent costs.
    But that's what "housing benefit" is for - to pay for housing (rent) costs. Not to pay previous debts off. Her debtors will accept very low payments if she contacts them and sticks to any repayment agreement she makes with them. If she pays her debts with the HB, and you are left having to pay the shortfall in rent, then YOU are paying her debts for her.


  20. #20
    Basic Account Holder disableddebbie Novitiate

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    Default Re: Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit suspended and not reinstated

    Quote Originally Posted by sparky514 View Post
    Have you got a social worker,? they maybe able to help you, also if your mother is getting HB she must give you that towards her portion of the rent surely.
    I don't have one.



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