Capital Value of previous home disregarded or not

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    Hi Can anyone help please.

    We have a case where a pensioner has left her husband following the breakdown in their relationship and moved into a supported accommodation in our area claiming HB. This was in November last year. The former house was up for sale at that time and the capital value of the property was disregarded for 26 weeks.

    We have asked for an update of whether the house has sold or not, to be told the house is no longer for sale as husband who is 83 is unwell and will not be sold until anything happens to the elderly gentleman.

    Can anyone confirm if the value of the former home can be disregarded or if it should be taken into account as the 26 weeks disregard cannot be extended.

    nick dearnley

    You’ve used para 6 of Sch6 presumably, and that cannot be extended. It seems reasonable that they are estranged, so para 4(b) won’t apply:

    4. Any premises occupied in whole or in part—
    (a) by a person who is a relative of the claimant or of his partner as his home where that person has attained the qualifying age for state pension credit or incapacitated;
    (b) by the former partner of the claimant as his home; but this provision shall not apply where the former partner is a person from whom the claimant is estranged or divorced or with whom he had formed a civil partnership that has been dissolved.

    It’s slightly odd that 4(b) contemplates that there could be former partners who are not estranged…

    The other way to go, if it cannot be disregarded, might be to look at the value of her share. With her former partner living there it might not be much. Half the value vs the value of half?

    Couple that have split up

    Mike Hughes

    The value is that of a willing selling to a willing buyer. Unless you can find a relative or friend willing to purchase her half then the half has next to no value as there is simply no market for it.


    I disagree on that Mike. The old caselaw was very clear but the decision by Judge Jacobs rather overturned all that. Shares of property can be sold at auction….and there is one almost every week day in the UK….or will be bought by insurance companies and buy any property companies. They wont pay the mkt value of course but there is an active mkt in almost anything these days.


    Mike Hughes

    There have been many discussions on this over the years on Rightsnet. The most recent being December 2022 to which someone called HBinfopeter 🙂 contributed the point above and Paul Stockton noted the issue with the suggestion.

    In reality the Jacobs decision has unique circumstances which likely render it obiter and that’s the approach I’ve seen from tribunals in the years since then. Indeed I have had a tribunal where the judge described the attempt to use the Jacobs decision as “taking the mickey” given that the tribunal considered the suggested market as wholly unfamiliar to the appellant; likely to introduce both significant delays and cost and unlikely to produce a higher valuation.

    To test this post 2018 I encouraged a couple of appellants to pursue the option. In both instances the valuation came back below both that suggested by DWP and the LA and actually lower than I had suggested in one case.

    The general tribunal perspective remains that it’s willing seller to willing buyer and suggesting other markets who might have something of value to say on the matter has never yet produced a positive outcome for DWP or a LA or indeed a sympathetic ear from a tribunal who largely see it as something not of this world.

    I also have zero recall of anyone coming back on Rightsnet and saying “well that failed and the property was valued at greater than £16,000


    Fair enough Mike. I think the local authority has to rely on this decision and many on hbinfo have done so. I also accept that the appellants rep is going to try hard to get the Tribunal to reject it and return to the older arguments. I would feel very comfortable myself with this decision and an RO decision taking all the circs into account. If a Tribunal decided the property was worthless I would probably leave it at that bearing in mind the age of the partner but it is difficult for an assessment officer to do that when in most practical instances it is not going to be worthless.

    I should add that in the early days of the “bedroom tax” many Tribunal Judges fought tooth and nail against the early UT decisions before the sheer weight of the higher Courts told. Here there is just the one UT decision (so far as I know) so most experienced appeals Officers could make a case from either position.

    Mike Hughes

    All fair points Peter. There have been post Jacobs decisions but mostly obiter. I think the general principle at play is that it’s open to a tribunal to look at the evidence; take account of the Jacobs decision (they cannot disregard it) but then decide that its proposal doesn’t necessarily produce a different outcome on the facts of the case they’re looking at. In my experience that’s generally where tribunals go with this.

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