Joint tenant to be part of each others household

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    I have a landlord who had a tenant in a 2 bedroom property with her 2 year old daughter. She was charged £120.00 per week and was awarded the 2 bed LHA rate.

    In November 2011 the landlord moved her brother into the 2 bedroom property and said he slept on an air bed in the living room ( which he shared with his sister) and he also charged him £120.00 per week and he said this was now a joint tenancy (£240.00 per week total). The sister pays all the utilities

    At that time a decision maker decided that the brother did have a rental liability, but  did not feel that there was a joint tenancy in line with equal responsibilities and the shared room rate was awarded. The landlord accepted this award of the shared room rate and has not chased the shortfall.

    case law:
    ‘AA c Chesterfield Borough Council v Secretary of State for Work And Pensions (HB) (2011) UKUT 156 (AAC).
    which allows joint tenants to be part of each others household, has been brought to our attention and the landlord is requesting we reassess the claim.

    • does the sister qualify for the 3 bedroom rate
    • does the brother qualify for the 2 bed or 3 bed rate
    • as the landlord has not chased the tenant for the shortfall do I reassess the claim back to November 2011 and award a large backdated credit to the landlord



    We had the similar query about joint tenants being part of a common household (based on CH/107/2012)and put it to DWP like this:

    Hi Eugene

    Can you advise the DWP’s policy intention in the LHA Guidance Manual when you refer to ‘maintain a Common Household’ and whether a circular is relevant to bring this to all LA attention especially pointing out commissioners decision CH/107/2010 that went to Upper Tribunal [2011] UKUT 156 (AAC) as I think the impact of this is massive. We will be looking at all our shared accommodation as to whether it’s appropriate to amend their LHA bedroom entitlement.

    In your reply would you also advise what appropriate evidence you would accept of someone who maintains a common household and whether the intension is only for related family members who share or if it can be extended beyond this.

    Joint tenants within the same household
    2.100 In some cases joint tenants may be part of the same household but are not treated as members of the same family. For example, the customer may have a non-dependent son or daughter who is a joint tenant but they maintain a common household.
    Lee has a partner and two children aged under 10. He is a joint tenant with his mother but they form a single household. They pay £150 a week to rent a three bedroom house and they both claim Housing Benefit (HB).
    Under the size criteria the three bedroom LHA rate applies to both Lee and his mother because they form a single household.

    This was his response:

    I have now heard from our lawyers.

    As you are already aware, although this Department has overall responsibility for the Housing Benefit scheme and its funding, local authorities have statutory responsibility for the day-to-day administration. This includes the assessment of individual claims for benefit. Neither Ministers nor officials can comment on, or intervene in, individual cases. However, I would like to comment generally.

    Whether people form a single household is a question of fact and I think that’s a view DWP takes for all benefits. Although this usually arises in the context of couples or responsibility for a child/young person. There’s case law on this in the context of deciding if two people are a couple and some of that will apply more generally to households. I don’t think we would want to give more guidance than that given that we generally consider it a question of fact.

    There isn’t anything that prevents unrelated people forming a single household (without being a couple), although it might be fairly unusual and an LA might want more evidence that it would if considering a claimant and their adult child, for example. It would be for the LAs to consider the type of evidence that is needed on a case by case basis taking the full circumstances of every case into account.

    CH/107/2010 seem to confirm DWP general approach. That dealt with a father/son where the son also cared for the father. The Judge decided that, although the FtT hadn’t expressly considered the point, it was almost inevitable they formed a single household but I think that was on the facts, both their familial relationship and the son being the carer.

    clear as mud >)
    I hope this helps

    John Boxall

    I might start by looking at the Housing Law involved.

    What was the original tenants agreement with the landlord? If it was a sole tenancy then he has no right to move anyone else in, period.

    Is ‘the brother’ the brother of the landlord or the tenant. If the former there may be a LTAHAW issue.

    It may also be worth looking at the ‘commerciality’ of the entire arrangement.

    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

    Chris Robbins

    You also need to keep in mind the ages of the claimants. If the brother is under 35 then the shared accommodation rate provisions will trump the LHA rate for members of the same household.


    I’m with John on this one – your starting point must be the first tenancy agreement – for axample, a LL cannot simply move somebody else in without the tenant’s consent. If this is what has happened the brother probably does not have a rental liability. If T has consented I think you have a new agreement with the same rent but a reduction in rights ( a lack of exclusivity) in which case you should be looking at commerciality.



    We have had similar claims, usually where a non dep has gone, then re-appeared as a joint tenant – but also similarly wwhere the “original” tenat has had a relative move in as a joint tenant (with no bedroom) also with no rent reduction in the original tenants rent,
    We have refused these claims – on the grounds that they are contrived – we have again used the original tenancy as a starting point to establish that there is no right to award a new tenancy when the whole property is subject to a tenancy agereement.
    Also made decision that the “new” tenancy has been created in order to take advantage of the HB scheme as such a tenancy would not be commercially avaialble to general members of the public (only friends/relatives of the orginal tenant)
    Although we have had several similar cases, its all been with 1 landlord…. who provided these changes in circs/new claims and provided the chesterfield case as his proof we should pay both tenant and new tenant 2/3 bed rate…. So far he/his tenants haven’t appealed.
    Good old DWP – we make the rules but will not explain them to you,even if you do ask nicely!!

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