Essential repairs – two "normal" homes

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    Neil Frazer

    Hello everyone,

    Keithh and I have been puzzling over this one for a few days now.

    A local landlord proposes to decant some tenants from a property in order to carry out essential repairs. Normally, that would present no problem, we’d just pay HB on either the normal home or the temporary accommodation until the claimant moves back to the normal home. In this case, the landlord is happy with the idea of receiving HB on the normal home throughout, which is excellent, as it cuts down on the paperwork.

    There’s only one problem with this pretty picture of well-organised administration. The repairs are so drastic that the normal home will be pulled down and rebuilt from the foundations up. That would still be fine as far as I’m concerned – just particularly serious repairs. However, the landlord is not 100% certain that the “normal” home will actually be on the same site – it could be somewhere else within the Borough. For clarity’s sake: The current address which has disrepair issues = A, the temporary address = B, the possible entirely new site = C. As it happens, B is outside our jurisdiction.

    1)As I’ve already said, there’s no problem with the tenant moving from A to B to A.
    2) Are we justified in saying no to an arrangement in which tenants move from A to B to C, while we pay HB for A, then C? If so, what are our grounds for this? I would like to be able to say yes. In which case, no appeal but I might still have to justify my decision to an external auditor. Also, at what point do we start paying HB for C?
    3) Can address C be regarded as the normal home despite the fact that the claimant has never lived there (prior to the claimant actually moving in)
    4) I wonder if a court dealing with a question of rights under the tenancy would treat any agreement for address C as being a continuation of the tenancy for address A and conferring the same rights – therefore supporting an argument that A and C should both be regarded as the “normal” home.

    Any thoughts anyone has on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time.



    On the face of it, it seems fine for you to pay at the existing property A if that is the place the claimant is charged rent for – even if the temp address B is outside your borough. If and when it becomes clear that the move to property B has in fact become permanent, then HB would stop and the claimant would have to claim at the new LA. I dont think it matters if the claimant moves from B to C and back again every night – there are repairs and the reg clearly specifies which property HB should be paid for (see below). By my reading, the “normal home” rules do not actually apply here except in relation to the repairs.

    The one problem area I see is: the claimant’s liability for CT at property B. They would need to claim CTB at the new LA and HB from your LA (we know the potential for problems there).

    That aside, provided you come to an agreement with colleagues in the the other LA I see no reason why you cannot lawfully pay HB for A for the entire period the claimant is residing at B and C until it is clear that B or C has become the “normal” home (i.e. because the repairs or complete and/or because that is the dwelling the landlord has started to charge rent for).

    “Where a claimant has been required to move into temporary accommodation by reason of essential repairs being carried out to the dwelling normally occupied as his home, and is liable to make payments in respect of either (but not both) the dwelling which he normally occupied as his home or the temporary accommodation, he shall be treated as occupying as his home the dwelling in respect of which he is liable to make payments”

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