Estimating eligible rent for the future

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    We have been asked by one of our HAs if we can estimate the HB eligible rent for a property they are thinking of building.

    It is to replace existing shared housing accommodation with self-contained flats, for use by tenants with learning difficulties.

    The current LRR for 1-bed flats is around £130/week.

    The total rent expected to be charged is £210/wk, including the following stated as accommodation-related service charges:
    [list:c13e65d43c]Management 13.43
    Maintenance inc Sinking Fund 30.57
    Charges for the staff accommodation – rent, management, maintenance, insurance, rates/council tax 15.18
    Estate Services – insurance, landscape, gardening, lift maintenance 12.43[/list:u:c13e65d43c]
    The “bricks and mortar” rent has been stated as £140/wk.

    We’d be grateful for advice about whether:
    [list:c13e65d43c]1) we can come to any conclusion now about the likely eligible HB for the future? The HA has advised us that they need the information to decide whether or not they can afford to proceed with the project, but we are concerned that we may tie ourselves into a decision now, which cannot properly be made until the property is built and the actual rent level determined.
    2) assuming that we can find a way to reach a suitably qualified estimate, is there any other information we should seek before doing so?
    3) we’ve been advised that care will be provided to the residents by a third party (County Council) – is this sufficient to say it is being provided on behalf of LL, to say its not on behalf of LL, or do we need to ask more questions?[/list:u:c13e65d43c]
    All comments and suggestions gratefully received.

    Kevin D

    This sounds positively unhelpful. And, unfortunately, it is. But with good reason. Just as a bit of background, the following advice is based on actual experience and knowledge – not an academic exercise.

    I would advise any LA to run a mile from offering such info in these circs.

    Firstly, with no claim, there can be no decision. However, if the LA offers an indication prior to claims being made, and the actual decision is subsequently different, the LA may leave itself open to legal action.

    There was a CD where an LA was offered pre-claim advice – the Commissioner made the same point about possible legal action (can’t recall the CD at this time, but I’ve quoted it before in another HBinfo thread).

    In short, an LA is just asking for trouble by offering any indication to a L/L, in these circumstances, as to what the eligible rent might be.

    As for the Care, Support & Supervision (CCS), it is not enough for it to be provided by the County Council. The question is whether or not CCS is provided by the accommodation provider (normally the L/L), or on behalf of the accom provider. For this aspect, take a very close look at a recently released CD – [b:52ba451723]CH/0423/2006[/b:52ba451723]. It can be found on this site:

    In particular, be very wary of any attempt, usually by the L/L, to conveniently produce an agreement about CSS being provided on behalf of the L/L. If such an “agreement” is produced, don’t take it at face value. What counts is the reality of the situation – as amply demonstrated in [b:52ba451723]CH/0423/2006[/b:52ba451723] where the L/L had a term in an agreement purporting to show CCS was provided on behalf of the L/L. The Cmmr emphatically found that CCS was not provided on behalf of the L/L.

    As an aside, although you refer to the L/L as a HA, is the L/L registered with the Housing Corp? If not, you’d have to refer to the R/O in any case. If subsequently “exempt accom” cases, you’d probably find it impossible to restrict and end up losing a shedload in subsidy.


    have, in the past, provided the sort of advice you are talking about in this post. However, I no longer do and would agree wholeheartedly with everything Kevin has said.

    The only warning I will give you is that when you refuse to give that advice you might find the company involved threatening to go to MPs, members, local papers etc with a “We were going to build this great facility for people with disabilities but won’t now as the Council refuse to even give us advice” story.

    Kevin D

    Following up jmembery’s observations about threats / bullying tactics etc…

    In the face of such an approach, just stick to the cold hard facts (e.g. no claim = no decision etc) and don’t get involved with ifs / buts / maybes / what might have beens etc.

    It obviously worked for Sheffield. I also have first hand knowledge of at least two other LAs who stuck to their guns (& were proven correct) and at least a further two who wouldn’t play the “game” when confronted with an aggressive approach by the prospective L/L. (In time, that L/L will be named).


    PS: I’m worried – jmembery agrees wholeheartedly with one of my posts…. 😈


    Just to clarify – the HA is registered, so the rent referral test would simply be the “unreasonably high” question.

    Thanks for the warnings about indicating expected benefit levels.

    Kevin D

    If the HA is registered with the Housing Corp (not enough to be registered with the NHF), then referring is optional.

    HBR 14 & Sch 2 apply (re referring).


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