Govan Law Society -Challenging your bedroom tax decision

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  • #46406
    rober_l
    Participant

    We have started to receive forms downloaded from the Govan Law Society's website, which advises those affected by the bedroom tax to do the following 

     If you wish to challenge a ‘bedroom tax’ decision you only have one month to do so. The month is calculated from the date the council wrote to you saying your housing benefit was going to be reduced because they believe you are ‘under-occupying’ and have a ‘spare room(s)’. You can only appeal late if you have a good reason, for example, you had been ill.

     

    Do you have a disabled person living in the household then you might be able to say:

     "A disabled adult lives in my house and requires their own bedroom because of the needs of their disability. To ignore the needs of a disabled member of my household and treating them as not being entitled to their own room to sleep in is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998" /AND

     "The disabled member of my household requires a bedroom for therapeutic/care purposes/to store medical equipment in relation to their disability" /AND

     "My home has been specially adapted to meet the needs of a disabled person".

     Does someone in the household have mental or physical health problems?, if so you might be able to say:

     

    "A member of my household has mental or physical health problems which would make moving from their home harmful, and requiring such a move is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998"

     Do you have children who had previously been in a household that experienced domestic violence?, if so you might be able to say:

     "My children need a safe space because they previously lived in a household which experienced domestic violence and requiring such a move is unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998".

    Do you have a small galley-style kitchen?, if so you might be able to say:

     "I have a small galley-style kitchen and you have wrongly classified my dining-room as a spare bedroom".

     If you have a bedroom which is a small box-type room, you may be able to say:

     "I have a small box-type room which is not a bedroom, and you have wrongly classified this as a spare bedroom". 

     

     If you are separated from a former partner and share child care on a part-time basis, you might be able to say:

     "I am separated from my former partner and require the room you have wrongly classified as a spare room to meet my child care and parental duties. To ignore my duties as a parent, and ignore the needs of my children to stay with me, is discriminatory and unlawful in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998, and contrary to the Children (Scotland ) Act 1995".

     If none of the above apply, then you may wish to argue the following:

     " You have wrongly classified as a spare bedroom the room I use as a *family play room/*storage room/*games room….

     

    We have had 3 of these completed this week, just wondering if anyone else was receiving these appeals and if so how they had dealt with them.

    Many Thanks

    Leanne  

    #130991
    suzanne elliott
    Participant

    http://www.govanhilllc.com/brtax/brtax.pdf

    Can anyone explain to me how we are to determine what is a bedroom and what is not? If you have a tenancy for a 3 bedroom property and use one of those rooms as something other than a bedroom surely that is your choice?

    We have received two Appeals today following our letters to them with their new award from our Council Tenants Appealing they have a ‘spare’ room – this again looks like a template letter;

    i consider this unwarranted yet in order to challenge this in the correct way and potentially by way of formal appeal i require further information to be sent to me within 7 days of the date of this letter and the urgency of that is to ensure i have enought time to formulate any such appeal and in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed; OR in the alternative I requiest the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after i receive the request information below;
    1 a written copy of the councils policy and decision making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer
    2. a full explanation of houw the council decided that ******* was determined to be a 3 bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord in this process

    Despite the poor wording, HB officers don’t make the decision on how many rooms are in the property ? :tired:

    #130992
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Already a thread on the standard letters regarding the rent officer – the legislation changed from 1st April 2013.

    SSSC or Over Accommodated/Unreasonably High Rent

    And an example of a reply to send.

    #131005
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    I think you do make the decision as to the number of bedrooms. The HB officer makes a finding of fact based upon the evidence provided. It is upto you where you gather that evidence from. It makes sense that information about bedrooms is obtained from the landlord because that is the most efficient method.

    If you make a finding of fact that the dwelling has 3 bedrooms and that is based upon the info provided by the L/L. The tenant is at liberty to challenge that decision on the basis that you have made an error as to the facts in their case. They can challenge that it only has 2 bedrooms. In some cases the challenge might be right, the L/L might have got it wrong, in other cases it won’t be as simple as that. Following the challenge you either make a new finding of fact or stick to your guns.

    In theory you could visit the property and have a look, you could ask the tenant or landlord to produce floor plans, photos or anything else that supports the info they have both provided.

    You will then either change your decision or stick with it and in the latter case you will prepare your submission.

    Whether you accept that a particular room is a bedroom or not will depend upon the strength of the challenge and evidence but i suspect in most cases the claimant will be on a hiding to nothing.

    The answer to 1. is that you don’t need to the law changed effective 01/04/13 and even though your decision was made before that date it took account of the circumstances that applied on 01/04/13 and was effective from then.

    The answer to 2. is that the landlord provided the info because you asked for it and you then made a finding of fact based on the info provided. We make findings of fact all the time based upon evidence provided by claimants, employers, landlords, support workers etc but it isn’t them that make the decision. The decision is made by the decision maker.

    you can word them better than that 🙂

    #131034
    Anonymous
    Guest

    One of Scotland’s biggest selling tabloid newspapers is running with this promotion of the Govan Law Centre’s bedroom tax appeals menu today

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/how-beat-bedroom-tax-1846600

    #131045
    mariesteele
    Participant

    I am a little confused as to when the bedroom tax applys, or it does not. The reason for this question is under the now housing benefit rules, if customer receives disability living allowance, care component there is no non dependant charge, and customer is allowed to have an extra bedroom, :~ so why does a bedroom tax apply under these new rule, as I would have thought it would be the same

    #131047
    chris harvey
    Participant

    Not sure if I follow you Marie. The bedroom tax looks at the household including non deps (whether or not a non dep charge applies is not relevant) and compares the number of bedrooms allowed for that household with the number of bedrooms in the property to determine if a reduction should be applied.
    It is clearly beneficial if a customer has a non dep so they are not over accommodated and there is no non dep charge too because of their disabled status.

    #131049
    Terminator
    Participant

    By not providing any definition of a bedroom the DWP has caused us poor LAs a bit of a problem. So why should we (as usual) enforce an ill thought out policy without the required legislation?

    Yes we can stick by our original decisions based on info held based on previous applications, TAs and extra info provided by the LL etc, and whilst tempting to clog up the Tribunal system in ESA style that will require a lot of work on our part.

    Or maybe we should take the easy option for once and allow all of the appeals re bedroom classifications and let the DWP introduce fit for purpose legislation when their projected savings aren’t met.

    Just a thought!!!

    #131054
    andyrichards
    Participant

    Actually, I reckon just as many problems would have ensued (maybe more) if they HAD tried to define a bedroom in the legislation. Well….problems for the government anyway. Any set definition would simply have been circumvented by the Govan Law Societies of this world, and the whole thing would have just become a dead letter. Would have been ok for local authorities though!

    #131071
    suzanne elliott
    Participant

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-22255425

    See link above.

    anyone spot the slight problem with one of the pictures? :bigsmile:

    #131073
    Anonymous
    Guest

    [quote=suzanne elliott]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-22255425

    See link above.

    anyone spot the slight problem with one of the pictures? :bigsmile:[/quote]

    That’s no bed – that’s a guitar stand.

    #131076
    nick dearnley
    Participant

    I’m pleased she has what seems like a reasonable outcome, but what has she had ‘overturned’ by her ‘win’ exactly? It sounds to me more like the HA have agreed to take a hit on the rent they can charge, but it’s nothing to do with winning a benefits argument. Shoddy reporting by the Beeb.

    My guitars also have their own bedroom in my house – they do have to share though! 🙂

    #131077
    John Boxall
    Participant

    Of course, and while I disagree with Joe Halewood on a number of areas around this, as he rightly points out, if Social Landlords are proactive over both reclassification, in a few cases and helping tenants move or exchange then a lot of the predicted savings could disappear while if ‘over accomodated’ social tenants move to the private sector, the HB bill could soar………

    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

    #131078
    suzanne elliott
    Participant

    Re assessment; Landlord reduced rent and size of property – re calc done today, net gain = increase in HB £3.00 – and still over accommodated by one bedroom, but does now have a lovely ‘study’ for Guitars !

    #131130
    John Smith
    Participant

    Hello Julian,

    While I fully agree with regards to new claims, with most of the large authorities, I would suspect that spreadsheets containing the number of bedrooms in each property were received from the social landlords, automatically input into the Benefit System (as with certain rent increases) and then a mass recalculation done. That is, in the first instance at least, the information received from the landlord was indeed blindly accepted “en masse” and an individual decision maker will apply his or her mind to any individual case only where that case has been challenged by the claimant. Certainly the LA has made the decision, but if made without thought, possibly could be challenged by judicial review (rather than appeal)?

    John

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