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Benefits for property owners who live in rented accomodation

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I have a situation which is pretty unique (I believe) and don't seem to get a straight answer from any of the government sites or even my bank, so I was wondering if anyone here has any advice.


In 2006 I divorced and my (ex) wife stayed in our mortgaged property while I rented a different property that was completely separate. Unfortunately, she was unable to take over the mortgage or to raise enough capital to buy the property from me, so the mortgage is in my name still despite me not living there. In Lieu of maintenance, I pay the mortgage for her (they're around the same price). She is self-employed and makes a maximum of £7k a year but also has tax credits and maintenance from her previous husband to make up the shortfall.


We have no written contract between ourselves for the mortgaged property and I am not in a landlord position, as she has free reign to do anything to the property and I have no landlord-style liability to fix things if they go wrong.


Last month I lost my job through a dismissal (long story) but although I qualify Contribution based JSA, Housing benefit for my rented home and council tax benefit. The grey area is the mortgage, which is still in my name and needs paying.


The bank has asked me to make token payments and really to pay the contractual minimum which monthly is more than my income now. They also suggested that I go to the jobcentre and complete the form MI12, but can I do this and still claim housing benefit as the rented property and the mortgaged property are two separate addresses although both in my name.


I don't want her evicted as we're still on good terms, and as I am in negative equity with the property, sale of any description is out of the question. Any advice would be gratefully accepted.

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