Reply To: overpayment – landlord does not know claimant moved!


Essentially I think you are right.

If the Council was also unaware the tenant had left, it might be possible to argue that a landlord directly caused an overpayment by negligently failing to know that the tenant had moved and thereby also failing to inform the Council. I think that is always going to be a weak argument alongside the more obvious immediate cause of the overpayment being the claimant’s failure to tell the Council they had moved.

If the overpayment is caused by official error, again Councils might want to argue that the landlord should have known the tenant had gone and should therefore by extension have known also that they were being overpaid.

The trouble in both situations is that it is quite reasonable and normal for many landlords to have no direct contact with a tenant, especially on site, for weeks or months at a time. Perhaps a landlord who is receiving HB payments has more responsibility to keep in touch, but I think visiting at least as often as the HB payment frequency is tantamount to harassment. Tenants are entitled to be left alone as long as they pay their rent and don’t break the terms of their tenancy – unless there are rent arrears or complaints about tenants’ behaviour, there really isn’t any reason for a landlord to be constantly snooping round. So how are they supposed to know that a tenant has disappeared in the last few weeks?

Therefore I think there will be fewer cases in practice where a landlord is caught by either limb of the new Reg 101(2)(a) than you might think at first sight. It will take lots of lovely appeals for us to form an idea of the line the Tribunals and Commissioners are generally going to take.