Can a 7 year old claim HB?

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  • #40024
    Jayne-T
    Participant

    The father will not engage with the Housing Association (former Council property) or with the benefits department and now has significant arrears. The case has been to court and the tenancy has been assigned to the 7 year old under Trust of the Housing Association and with Father as legal guardian.

    Can the 7 year old claim HB as the father refuses to?

    #114245
    Kevin D
    Participant

    I’m not sure anymore. In principle, there doesn’t appear to be a age bar to claiming, specifically, HB. The issue is whether or not the child can be legitimately treated as being liable in the first instance (bear in mind that if the child cannot be treated as liable, HB cannot be paid because HB is dependant upon there being a liability). There have been several past threads on this issue with a range of arguments for and against. If the 7 yr old can be treated as liable for HB purposes, I’m reasonably sure HB can be paid. Of course, the father will be a non-dep.

    #114247
    liffe
    Participant

    The basic conditions of HB are:

    A person is liable OR TREATED AS LIABLE.

    I would say yes, but does that mean that the father is a non dep?
    Could they get 2AR?
    Will they even need 2AR as the council cannot make the child liable?

    What a strange situation…

    #114248
    John Boxall
    Participant

    My initial view might be that the situation is a little strange.

    Why wont the father ‘engage’?

    Why was the child assigned the tenancy?

    Who is acting on the childs behalf?

    I might start by talking to whoever was acting on behalf of the child &/or Social Services

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

    Wilkins Micawber, Ch12 David Copperfield

    #114249
    liffe
    Participant

    Do Social Services have a responsibility to support the child though as they are under 16?

    #114250
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I would say that a child of 7 has not got legal capacity to make a claim – he cannot possibly understand what he is doing. I’m not even sure he can be granted a tenancy but I assume the HA know what they are doing. They certainly couldn’t pursue him for rent arrears that’s for sure. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The father is the legal guardian so he still has to make the claim. I’m with Barry – if the father won’t engage with professionals, and the rent isn’t paid, then the child is at risk and it’s a matter for Social Services

    #114251
    Jayne-T
    Participant

    Thank you for your comments. I have looked again at the claim and it appears we had a claim previously from the father (on behalf of the son) which we made an adverse inference on because he did not respond. We are looking at whether we have revise this decision if we can somehow gather the info without the cooperation of the father.

    With regards to the son, Social Services and the courts are currently involved.

    #114253
    Kay_Tade
    Participant

    [quote=Jayne-T]The case has been to court and the tenancy has been assigned to the 7 year old under Trust of the Housing Association and with Father as legal guardian.[/quote]

    I think that pretty much covers the “treat as liable” and the “legal capacity” bit though, as pointed out, the reasons behind this arrangement may need to be investigated in order to confirm if Social Services should be responsible for the rent.

    I really can’t see a bar to HB, unless Social Services are required to care for the child, and this may be the case, or if not, then they are within their rights to discharge functions and HB is payable[To the child or guardian]. There must be some issue/s with the father, I assume, hence your statement that a previous claim was closed as a response was not received for a further info request.

    Also, agree the father will have to be a non dependant if it’s decided HB payable to the child.

    #114263
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I am not sure legal capacity is an important aspect to this. The child has not entered into a contract – it’s not one of those cases where you question whether the child understood what responsibilities it was taking on, like a 16-year-old with a licence to occupy. The tenancy exists by operation of law – it’s not a contractual tenancy.

    A child cannot be a legal tenant until it is 18 – the Law of Property Act 1925 prevents a minor from holding an estate in land in England or Wales (not sure about Scotland but you are in Bolton I think aren’t you?). Therefore if a child finds itself in a position where it ought to be a tenant (for example on succession to a deceased parent’s tenancy as in Prince v RBK&C) someone else must hold the tenancy on trust until the child is old enough to assume the legal tenancy. Here it seems the landlord is the trustee. Meanwhile, the HA is unable to rent the home to anyone else and so it is entitled to be compensated for the loss it will incur out of its responsibilities as a trustee. The beneficiary will be liable for that compensation, and it will be technically I think a payment in consequence of use and occupation although I couldn’t swear to that. So there is an issue here about whether the child is liable to make the right kind of payments – is this covered by Reg 12(1)?

    The other problem that you might have is Reg 9(1)(e) as the child will be liable to make payments to the trustee of a trust of which he is a beneficiary, but the non-contrivance escape clause is surely satisfied here.

    Alternatively, you treat the father as if he is liable under Reg 8, but that’s how it all went wrong in the first place so that is not really a sensible option. The child is therefore the only person realistically who can be the claimant. As he is too young to appreciate what is involved in being a benefit claimant, he is unable to act and an appointee should be found. This ought to be someone other than his father – a social worker seems the obvious choice.

    For me I think Reg 12(1) is perhaps the biggest obstacle and as Kay says it might be more appropriate for the Councilk to meet the outgoings under its duties to children in need.

    #114276
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I meant legal capacity to make a claim. How can a 7 year old understand his obligations to report changes in his circumstances? He can’t, by the same token somebody else holds his tenancy on trust. The person who acts for the child has to make the claim, like any other appointee.

    #114287
    John Boxall
    Participant

    My 10 year old cant even get his pyjamas into the wash…………..

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

    Wilkins Micawber, Ch12 David Copperfield

    #114306
    jamcon
    Participant

    According to the circular G7 2011, there is a case before the UT, CH 2689 2010, where this type of scenario is being looked at. It is a four year old in this case. Hopefully, we’ll get a definitive answer soon.

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