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MY GF is recieves housing benefit for her privatly rented house

the council set the rent they were prepared to pay in march 2006 and she makes up the difference between what the council pay in benefit and the actual rent by paying the landlord direct.

The council pay there bit direct to the landlord (so good so far)

Now the council (March 2007) has had cause to review the benefit claim and has discovered that they have been paying too much to the landlord i.e they have been paying more than they agreed.

Now they want to take the overpayments they have made out of her benefit for the next year so in effect they are charging her for there mistake which they paid to someone else not her

Can they do this?

Any advice much appreciated.

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The rules about overpayments can be complex- so full advice should follow this snippet of info. The overpayment should not be recovered if the HB offices committed an error, (called official error) despite having all the correct info AND if your girlfriend and her landlord couldn't have reasonably known that the payments are incorrect.

So, we are in a situation that the benefit was indeed overpaid but cannot be recovered because of an official error.

If, on the other hand, the HB were not in a possession of correct information OR the receipients of the benefit could have easily understand that the payments are incorrect- then the overpaid benefit can be recovered.

Recovery can be negotiated; instalments are acceptable and if your girlfriend is still entitled to this benefit (underlying eligibility) then the instalments can be low.

What needs to be done: gf needs to appeal the decision (1 month from the date of the decision, by clearly writing Appeal on the heading), gf needs to remind the HB ofice that the recovery should be suspended when the appeal is in process, gf needs to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment (ask the HB office for the form), proper advice session needs to arranged with the local advice agency/CAB.

Not sure if gf can claim it back from the landlord though- maybe arrange a rent free period instead....but that would mean that landlord knew that he is getting too much money, therefore blowing an argument about being unaware of the incorrect payments out of the water. Gf needs to be very careful how to proceed, as she may possibly end up interviewed under caution for fraud- I ain't kidding!

That's why I can give a brief overlook but proper professional advice needs to take place.

Good luck.


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