Intention to return

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  • #44335
    Andy Shanks
    Participant

    claimant was a council tenant joint tenant who was their carer. In March 2012 the claimant left the address and travelled around the country for 4 weeks, during this period they suffered many difficulties including psycotic, paranoid and delusional episodes which led to some short periods of hospitalisation. Claimant was then sectioned after the 4 weeks of travelling and was finally discharged after 6 weeks. During this time the joint tenancy was kept open and housing benefit was being paid onto the rent account. This was because we found out about all this retrospectively. On release the claimant did not want to return to the property and a place was found in a residential home. When we found out the housing benefit was cancelled back to March which was the date the claimant left their address. We also said that the hospital absence [if you are generous and ignore the 4 weeks of travelling as part of the illness] was not payable as temporary absence as there was no intention to return to the address. We put the overpayment onto the rent account as the reason for it was due to absence from the address.  

    My question really is to ask is this harsh, it looks right but the claimant is highly vulnerable and is the joint tenant is now left with rent arrears for the address. The tenancy is now in the joint tenant's name only but only from July 2012. We have paid benefit on that claim from that date but the period between March and July is missing HB. Could we have raised the O/P against the claimant rather than put it onto the rent account? would that have been fairer? While I want to do what is right I also want to see how we can help these 2 people as much as possible. It now turns out that the joint tenant has their own issues concerning mental illness.

    any advice???   :)         

    #125542
    Andreas
    Participant

    If the intention to return was realistic until they decided ‘on release’ that they wouldn’t return surely they still qualify for HB until that point?

    #125545
    Andy Shanks
    Participant

    It is that 4 week period before going into hospital that was our worry as it would seem to show non residence prior to any decision under temporary absence ….but yes I would like to pay [well net off the overpayment if I can]

    #125546
    Andreas
    Participant

    It seems the tenancy was kept open from the date of vacation because there was an intention to return (otherwise I assume liability would have been ended subject to the relevant notice period?).

    If so 7(13) may apply as it seems there may have been an intention to return, the part of the dwelling was not let or sub-let… though it is difficult to guage whether or not the absence was likely to exceed 13 weeks at the point it began.

    However, as this seems to have transpired retrospectively (and taking into account the mental capacity or otherwise of the person concerned), I don’t see how it is possible to determine one way or another whether the absence would have exceeded 13 wks or not… in which case I think a favourable decision in respect of the claimant’s intention is as justifiable as an unfavourable decision.

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