Claiming Housing Benefit but name on Deeds of House with Ex

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  • #44151
    MaFarmer
    Participant

    Claimant has recently split with her ex and I don't want to give her the wrong info.  She and her three children have moved into a rented property and she is in receipt of income support – she says that she told DWP about having her name on the deeds at the house she lived in with her ex partner.

    Basically the benefits team at the Council called her. She is still a joint owner of a property ie his house – they need her to fill in a form. But until this is sorted they cannot process her claim for housing benefit. 

     

    She had  asked if she removed her name from the mortgage and title deeds if that would make a difference and they said that could be classed as deprivation of capital whcih I understand.  Her ex is still living at the jointly owned property and they were never married so unsure if that has a bearing either.

     

    She is willing to walk away from any financial assets tied up in the home and leave her ex to it but can she do this without the council then classing it as deprivation of capital? 

    And can she still claim HB/CT if the house is not up for sale and he is still living in it?

    #125243
    Chris Robbins
    Participant

    I presume from the tone of your post you are advising a client rather than asking a question from the point of view of assessing a claim.
    First: While the claimant is in receipt of IS she is entitled to HB/CTB as passported benefits. As long as she has made a claim for HB/CTB she does not need to provide anything else.
    Second: The relevant rules on capital disregards are in Schedule 6 to the HB regs. Under Para 25 she is entitled to have her share of the value of the former matrimonial home disregarded for 26 weeks (automatically) and then for a longer period ‘if it is reasonable to do so’.
    Basically she needs to sort out her affairs in the longer term by deciding how her split from former partner is to be formalised. As a joint owner of the marital home she is obviously going to be entitled to a share in its value. She will probably need legal advice so that an agreement with her ex can be agreed, but as long as she can show she is going through that process the disregard should be extended.
    The advice that if she just hands over her share of the property so that she can claim benefit would lead to a refusal is correct. However, that would be if the above steps had been taken by the council. I can quite see why she has said she would do that given the council’s current position, but surely it is not an option that she favours?

    #125253
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I believe this is actually my claim you are dealing with, as it sounds awfully like a conversation I had with a claimant yesterday. Much like yourself I didn’t want to give her the wrong advice, so when she asked about having her name removed from the title deeds in order to qualify for Housing and Council Tax Benefit I stated that, if this was done, the assessor dealing would need to consider the issue of deprivation of capital.

    When I spoke with my claimant yesterday I was unsure whether the claim could be processed as Income Support was in payment and wanted to seek advice from a colleague, but I have since processed my claim due to it being passported. I have spoken to my claimant and advised her that any capital value she holds in the property will be disregarded for now, but asked her to complete the form sent. I have also advised her that it can be disregarded for longer than 26 weeks if reasonable to do so, and based on the specifics of her circumstances I think we most likely would disregard it for longer.

    I don’t want to go into too much more detail in case we’re dealing with two similar but entirely separate claims, but feel free to contact me if you’re looking for any more information.

    #125298
    petedavies
    Participant

    One other thing to consider – how much is her share of the property actually worth? It seems that it is occupied by an owner who may well be reluctant to give up possession. If so my guess would be not a lot.

    #125310
    Anonymous
    Guest

    The former marital home was also inherited from the ex-partner’s family, so it’s likely he will want to retain ownership of the property somehow. As Chris mentioned Schedule 6 does allow for the capital value of the property to be disregarded for more than 26 weeks if reasonable, and I think it would be reasonable to do so in this scenario.

    #125311
    John Boxall
    Participant

    You are a braver man than I am.

    My view is quite straightforward, she needs to start legal action over her share of the value.

    While it may well be zero, none the less this needs to be confirmed.

    It may of course be that she and her children may be allowed to live in it until the children reach 18, which in the current climate may not be a bad move

    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

    #155160
    mcurtis
    Participant

    Hi

    I have a similar situation that I am dealing with at the moment. Our claimant jointly owns the formal marital home and is named on the mortgage (but her ex husband is solely making the mortgage payments). When she first applied for HB she was in receipt of IS so we paid HB as appropriate on a passported claim.

    Her income support has ended and we have been looking at the capital value of the property. However, she has refused consent to do a valuation and supplied a letter from her solicitor saying that she wishes to relinquish any claim she may have upon the former matrimonial home. It was purchased in the joint names of the claimant and her husband in 2007 and was financed by a £10K deposit by the husband and a mortgage. Six months after purchasing the property her husband used two ISA's to install central heating, windows and doors with no contribution from our claimant. They were married in 2009 and separated in 2012, and therefore she feels that given the short marriage she is not entitled to a share of the property on the basis that she made no financial contribution whatsoever.

    In view of this should we treat it as deprevation of capital? Or does the fact that we have received confirmation from a solicitor that she has relinquished any claim on the property make a difference?

    Many Thanks

     

    #155161
    John Boxall
    Participant

    Well, for starters she needs to get her name off the Land Registry, until that point she remains an owner

    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

    #155163
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Until she provides evidence that she has no financial interest in the property you are entitled to treat her as having half of the equity

    #155167
    mcurtis
    Participant

    Many thanks

    #155168
    petedavies
    Participant

    I think you need to look very carefully at what has happened and when it happened – a letter from a solicitor regarding her intent is worth no more than a letter from the claimant making the same assertion.

    The fact that she wishes to do something is not, in my view, relevant.  She has an interest in the property until she takes some form of concrete step to divest herself of that interest.  This may be something as mundane as telling her ex that he can have the whole lot – in which case she MAY be a trustee with her ex as a beneficiary.

    When she gave effect to her decision is also relevant – if it was after she became aware of capital issues the whole transaction is questionable, particularly with regard to her motivation.  Until she has divested herself of her interest it remains hers (moral compunction is not an issue) and once this has happened her motivation/knowledge become important issues and (my view) she cannot use a perceived moral compunction to sidestep the deprivation argument if she were aware of the importance of capital.

    #155169
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    “she has refused consent to do a valuation”

    I think you are entitled to issue a decision on this basis to refuse HB. Hb is a means tested benefit based on income / assets. The point is that she can give her assets away if she wants; that’s her choice (although as I have pointed out on other threads on this subject there is a lot of legal protection on this for the partner nowadays and the idea of marriage is that you share your assets) but if you do so then it has to affect your entitlement to HB and CTS.

    So I would refuse the claim and point out to her that if she wants to appeal a HB Tribunal would probably adjourn a hearing and instruct her to allow a valuation. That’s going to drag things out for many months. On help with Council Tax…we have the recent decision by the Courts that suggests if the LA makes a reasonable request and the information is not supplied then a VT can confirm the refusal.

    So long as you have set out clearly what information the Council wants about the jointly owned property then I would leave it at that and put the ball firmly in the claimants court.

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