communal service charges when the landlord resident in the property

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  • #281812
    cfowkes
    Participant

    Where there is a hosted supported living scheme where the landlord is living in the property, what are your thoughts about allowing communal heat and light and other communal charges as being eligible for Housing Benefit

    Thanks

    #281814
    barryb
    Participant

    What do you mean by “hosted”?

    #281818
    Trevor Kenward
    Participant

    If there is a resident landlord I fail to see how this a specified/exempt case, or am I missing something?

    #281832
    cfowkes
    Participant

    It is a supported lodging scheme. Barnardos lease a room from the ‘host’ and pay the host to provide support.
    Barnardos are the landlord so are a relevant landlord for supported accommodation. I wasn’t too comfortable with that either but it seems to be an accepted practice.

    Since there is only the one tenant and the owner of the property, I am struggling with the communal facilities charges on the rent breakdown. The personal heating and lighting for the room have been costed at £7.00 a week and there is a charge of £14.00 a week for communal heat and light.

    I am not sure we should pay for any communal facilities since there are no facilities shared with another tenant.
    I may be over thinking this, thanks

    #281833
    Peter Barker
    Keymaster

    “Communal areas” has a definition in para 8 of Schedule 1. It refers to areas of common access, like hallways and stairs, and to rooms of common use in sheltered accommodation. I don’t see any reason why this should not cover areas that are shared with the property owner as opposed to other tenants. “Sheltered accommodation” does not have a definition. There are two ways you could look at it:

    – sheltered accommodation is a term of art having an accepted meaning in any housing-related legal context (elderly people’s housing with a warden, alarm system, self-contained dwellings and some communal facilities like a day lounge)
    – sheltered accommodation is a broad and flexible term

    The Court of Appeal in Oxford Council v Basey went for the broad and flexible option. I now tend to start from a presumption that any exempt accommodation is sheltered.

    Does the Barnardos head lease specifiy exactly which areas are being leased to them? In particular, does it include provision for their subtenants to have shared use of living room, kitchen etc with the host? I think these are rooms of common use and a fairly substantial communal fuel charge could be justified. There needs to be some rational basis on which to estimate how much of the fuel bill is attributable to the claimant using communal areas – I understand your concern that the head landlord might be tempted to exaggerate it and use the charge to subsidise their own fuel use. That’s more an issue about the amount of the charge and whether it is reasonable – it doesn’t prevent it being eligible in principle. If you consider the amount to be unreasonably high, or the ineligible amount to be unreasonably low, you can restrict the eligible charge and/or increase the ineligible amount relying on paras 3 and 4 of Schedule 1.

    On the lease and sublease arrangement in general, I first came across this when a local YMCA was using that model to accommodate care leavers who were “staying put” with a foster carer upon reaching 18. The deal was: “Hey householder, why don’t you lease us a room in your house so we can sublet it to vulnerable young adults such as, oooh let’s see, oh yes the one who already lives there!”. HB and Children’s Services in a single tier authority cooperated with one another and took the pragmatic view that this was an excellent way to attract central government subsidy.

    #281835
    cfowkes
    Participant

    Thanks Peter. I appreciate your response

    #281844
    barryb
    Participant

    Is this a case where Barnardo’s facilitate the arrangement between the claimant and the host family/landlord rather than actually being the landlord themselves?

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