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trevor33

Housing benefit

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Hi all, its been awhile since I last needed your help but here goes..

 

..I am a private tenant and back in February the boiler in my property became very poorly.

I contacted the landlord to arrange a replacement.

 

We came to an agreement for me to pay for the new boiler and installation and for the rent to be reduced over a two year period for me to recover the cost.

All was going well until recently.

 

We receive Housing Benefit and recently the local council decided to do a financial assessment and needed to know why the rent had been reduced.

I sent them all the paperwork including the agreement with my landlord and explained why the rent was reduced and for how long.

 

The council took this as the rent that I now pay and reduced the housing benefit accordingly.

They also now want me to pay back the overpayment back to February, even if the landlord now puts the rent back to the original payment the council want proof that the boiler has been paid for, this leaves me out of pocket.

 

Has anyone any idea where I go from here.

Trevor

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Why does it leave you out of pocket?

 

 

You have been getting more housing benefit than you were entitled too, were you expecting that housing benefit would replace what you spent on the boiler or for the reduction in rent to cover the cost?

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We were getting housing benefit on the normal rent.

I paid for the boiler and the landlord agreed to reduce the rent so that I could recoup the cost.

In theory I paid the boiler value in rent up front so I don't see why the council think that my rent has been reduced.

Edited by dx100uk
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HB doesn't work like that.

 

You can't expect the LA to continue paying you the same amount of HB when the LL has reduced the rent, it is after all tax payers money.

 

This raises the question as to why the LL doesn't have insurance for this exact event, are they legit LL's?


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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So where you paying less to the landlord and keeping the extra housing benefit?

 

I don't get how you could have paid the boiler value in rent up front, as you wouldn't have known about having to replace the boiler.

It is also unclear why the landlord didn't just fund the boiler replacement as they are legally/contractually bound to.

 

What was your initial rent amount,

how much was the boiler replacement,

how much was the rent reduced to as part of the new agreement,

how much housing benefit did you get before the change and

how much do you get now?

 

Was a new tenancy agreement created for this change?

Edited by dx100uk
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What tomtom said.

 

You need to argue that the rental amount has stayed the same but that you have paid x amount of that in advance.

Say you pay 6 months rent up front - although no money changes hands over that 6 month period your still liable for the rent so.... eligible for housing benefit for that period.

 

See here https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forum-archive/index13b3.html

 

I suggest contacting shelter for advice as it's unclear what arrangements you made with your landlord

 

As long as your contract says x amount then that's what should be paid

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Surely a simple way around this would be to keep the rent the same, but get your LL to credit you a set amount each month.

Treat the boiler issue separately..

. maybe if housing benefit wasn't involved it would make sense to do this deal,

but even then I personally wouldn't agree to replace a boiler for my landlord.

 

The amount some of these landlords get away with is crazy.

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What tomtom said.

 

 

You need to argue that the rental amount has stayed the same but that you have paid x amount of that in advance. Say you pay 6 months rent up front - although no money changes hands over that 6 month period your still liable for the rent so.... eligible for housing benefit for that period.

 

See here https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forum-archive/index13b3.html

 

I suggest contacting shelter for advice as it's unclear what arrangements you made with your landlord

 

As long as your contract says x amount then that's what should be paid

 

Thankyou, this is the point that I have tried to get over, in theory I have paid 2 years rent up front even though no money has changed hands.

 

I have already been in touch with shelter but they were unsure as to the best thing to do even after about 50 mins on the phone.

 

The rent agreement states that I should pay £x per month and the reduced rent was only a personal agreement between myself and the LL.

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The rent agreement states that I should pay £x per month and the reduced rent was only a personal agreement between myself and the LL.

 

So how did the LA know about the agreement between you and the LL?

 

Im confused as to how or why anyone pays two years rent in advance?

 

Something isn't right?


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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The LA did an assessment which included bank statements and all other income and outgoings.

The bank statement shows the monthly rent payments (at the reduced rate).

The LA wanted to know why the rent was reduced so I provided copies of the agreement with the LL.

 

Not all tenants treat the LL as an enemy, we have been on excellent terms since we started and we agreed that a new boiler was necessary.

We agreed that I would pay for the boiler and he would reduce the rent to pay me back, this suited both of us.

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Potentially, what you have done is akin to benefit fraud, as you are expecting the tax payer to purchase the boiler by keeping the extra housing benefit you would have been receiving whilst paying less rent, unless I am missing something.

 

You should have just gotten the landlord to fulfill his legal obligations and have him pay for it.

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Why do you think I have been paying less rent, the cash plus the monthly portion of the boiler still adds up to the full monthly rent for which I am entitled to HB.

If I had paid cash up front instead of purchasing the boiler would the same argument hold?

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Housing benefit doesn't work like that and I think you have been paying less rent because you said you have, as the landlord agreed to reduce the rent as you were paying for the boiler.

 

Say you pay 6 months in advance on rent of £850, you will still be entitled to whatever HB pays towards that £850, as long as you had a genuine reason for paying 6 months rent in advance.

 

However if you are paying £850 rent and you then enter into a personal arrangement with the landlord to buy a boiler at say £3,000 and he reduces the rent to £700, your eligible rent for benefit purposes becomes whatever you are entitled to of that £700 rent, regardless of what agreement you have with the landlord, as this now becomes your contractual rent agreement, which is what is used to calculate your housing benefit award.

 

Housing benefit cannot be claimed to cover boiler payments if you are paying it monthly, which it sounds like you could be, as it is the landlords legal requirement to have a fully working boiler, it is not down to the tenant to pay for a replacement boiler, no matter what arrangement you have with the landlord or how well you get on. What would you do if he suddenly decided to evict you?

 

You cannot expect benefits to pay you back for the boiler or to pay any monthly contract you have for the boiler replacement as this is not a contractual obligation under your tenancy agreement.

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What you are saying then is, if I paid 6 months rent in advance and the landlord then agreed to reduce the rent for say the next year for me to "use up" the advanced payment, that is ok?

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No, any changes in rent have to be notified to whomever is paying the benefit if it could affect the benefit entitlement.

 

 

If you read your award letter it will say something along the lines of changes include an increase or decrease in rent.

 

 

So if you had paid rent in advance for six months and claimed HB and the rent was subsequently reduced during that six months, you would still have an overpayment, as benefit is awarded on the initial contractual rent agreement and not just on what is declared. That's why they do these checks every now and again to make sure benefit is being paid correctly.

 

You would have also signed a claim form declaring that you would notify them of any changes that could affect your entitlement.

 

 

I am not sure what you aren't getting about how HB works?

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I think what you need to do is go into the LA offices and have a face to face meeting with someone from the HB department and go through all your docs including your i&e, that way then youll get it from the horses mouth.

 

 

Plus they may be able to explain what constitutes benefit fraud.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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Thank you all for your posts on this, I guess that I will need to have a discussion with the LL to see what to do, thanks again.

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Potentially, what you have done is akin to benefit fraud, as you are expecting the tax payer to purchase the boiler by keeping the extra housing benefit you would have been receiving whilst paying less rent, unless I am missing something.

 

You should have just gotten the landlord to fulfill his legal obligations and have him pay for it.

 

I disagree somewhat as they are not expecting the tax payer to buy the boiler but the landlord. The landlord who indirectly is being paid by the Council.

 

Say I have a plumbing emergency or the couch breaks..... if when I phone my landlord and they go pay for the plumber or buy a couch and take it off the next rental payment. I wouldn't bat an eyelid as I've done it before.

 

In your example/view I would be committing fraud if I didn't tell the Council that I was paying less that month and the Council then reduced my LHA payment too me for that month.

 

Which is silly as all I've done imho is pre pay that part of the rent in advance with the balance due as normal.

 

Granted where this gets complicated is the reduced rental payment overtime to recoup that outlay but the principle is exactly the same.

 

I'd be looking to appeal any decision on the rental amount and any overpayment if it was me and I'd also try to find help with that challenge.

 

Not that long ago my Council were offing grants for disabled people who privately rented for a free new boiler amongst other things.

 

As for £3000; a new Vokera Vision 30c Combi Gas Boiler (which my plumber raves about and fitted last year in the flat I rent) is just under £700

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I disagree somewhat as they are not expecting the tax payer to buy the boiler but the landlord. The landlord who indirectly is being paid by the Council.

 

Say I have a plumbing emergency or the couch breaks..... if when I phone my landlord and they go pay for the plumber or buy a couch and take it off the next rental payment. I wouldn't bat an eyelid as I've done it before.

 

In your example/view I would be committing fraud if I didn't tell the Council that I was paying less that month and the Council then reduced my LHA payment too me for that month.

 

Which is silly as all I've done imho is pre pay that part of the rent in advance with the balance due as normal.

 

Granted where this gets complicated is the reduced rental payment overtime to recoup that outlay but the principle is exactly the same.

 

I'd be looking to appeal any decision on the rental amount and any overpayment if it was me and I'd also try to find help with that challenge.

 

Not that long ago my Council were offing grants for disabled people who privately rented for a free new boiler amongst other things.

 

As for £3000; a new Vokera Vision 30c Combi Gas Boiler (which my plumber raves about and fitted last year in the flat I rent) is just under £700

 

Thanks for the argument. I am still trying to find someone to give me exact advice, which is proving difficult.

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I disagree somewhat as they are not expecting the tax payer to buy the boiler but the landlord. The landlord who indirectly is being paid by the Council.

 

Say I have a plumbing emergency or the couch breaks..... if when I phone my landlord and they go pay for the plumber or buy a couch and take it off the next rental payment. I wouldn't bat an eyelid as I've done it before.

 

In your example/view I would be committing fraud if I didn't tell the Council that I was paying less that month and the Council then reduced my LHA payment too me for that month.

 

Which is silly as all I've done imho is pre pay that part of the rent in advance with the balance due as normal.

 

Granted where this gets complicated is the reduced rental payment overtime to recoup that outlay but the principle is exactly the same.

 

I'd be looking to appeal any decision on the rental amount and any overpayment if it was me and I'd also try to find help with that challenge.

 

Not that long ago my Council were offing grants for disabled people who privately rented for a free new boiler amongst other things.

 

As for £3000; a new Vokera Vision 30c Combi Gas Boiler (which my plumber raves about and fitted last year in the flat I rent) is just under £700

 

But that's not what he has done though is it, unless I misunderstand it.

 

Tenant has paid for new boiler and from the sounds of it on credit and is paying for it monthly with the extra HB he gets as landlord has reduced rent, ergo, landlord has not forked out a penny for the boiler and replacement is being covered by benefit payments.

 

I can guarantee thats how the local authority see it.

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I paid CASH for the boiler and the Landlord is paying ME back with a monthly payment albeit by ME not paying the full rent. You do misunderstand the situation.

Edited by trevor33
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Hi

 

The Agreement you arranged between Yourself (Tenant) and the Landlord is exactly that it is between You and the Landlord. (Not Housing Benefit)

 

Housing Benefit takes into account notification from the Landlord of any change in the property.

 

The Landlord correctly notified the Local Authority of a 'Change in Circumstances' i.e. the Rent Reduction.

 

Do you have it in writing your Agreement between Yourself and the Landlord?


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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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No I don't misunderstand it then, the situation is still the same, the rent has been reduced and housing benefit can only be claimed on the actual rent charged and not to repay you for the boiler.

 

I now what people say about a reduction in rent etc, but that is not how housing benefit works.

 

What you should have done is left the rent at the normal amount and then gotten the landlord to make the boiler payment as a separate transaction, this would have been fine, as any checks conducting by the LA would show that the full rent was still being paid. Should they then have asked why the landlord was transferring money back to you, you could then have explained the boiler situation and as the full rent was being paid they would/should not have reduced your housing benefit.

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Hi

 

The Agreement you arranged between Yourself (Tenant) and the Landlord is exactly that it is between You and the Landlord. (Not Housing Benefit)

 

Housing Benefit takes into account notification from the Landlord of any change in the property.

 

The Landlord correctly notified the Local Authority of a 'Change in Circumstances' i.e. the Rent Reduction.

 

Do you have it in writing your Agreement between Yourself and the Landlord?

 

Yes, I have all the paperwork.

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No I don't misunderstand it then, the situation is still the same, the rent has been reduced and housing benefit can only be claimed on the actual rent charged and not to repay you for the boiler.

 

I now what people say about a reduction in rent etc, but that is not how housing benefit works.

 

What you should have done is left the rent at the normal amount and then gotten the landlord to make the boiler payment as a separate transaction, this would have been fine, as any checks conducting by the LA would show that the full rent was still being paid. Should they then have asked why the landlord was transferring money back to you, you could then have explained the boiler situation and as the full rent was being paid they would/should not have reduced your housing benefit.

 

Yes, I know how we should have done it, but this leaves us with this situation. (If we had hindsight)

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