Large family / overcrowding

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    We have a case where there is a couple, claiming JSA as a couple with 5 deps. Mr lives at a property they own with 2 of the dependants. Mrs lives in a rented property on the same street with 3 of the dependants. They consider themselves to be 1 family but the house they own is too small for them to all live together.

    The rented property is rented from a private landlord. Council Tax have made her liable at this address, and Mr liable at the address they own.

    We are fairly happy the hb can be awarded on the rented property, however, we dont believe Council Tax Benefit should be awarded at both addresses, and that they should be joint and severally liable at one address. Therefore, at the second address(the rented one), should there be a liability? should this be a 2nd home? should the landlord be liable and therefore able to include Council Tax in the rent?

    Any suggestions, comments, ideas are welcome


    From the council tax perspective it will depend on all sorts of factors as to who is liable for the rented property.

    If the mother is considered to have her main home there then she is liable for the council tax. In general couples are considered to live in the same dwelling unless there is something “unusual” about their relationship. Unltimately that is for your council tax section to decide but I think you could probably argue that this is “unusual”. If that is the case then I think you should be looking at paying them as separate liabilities with disaggregated incomes.

    However, if council tax decides that it is not her main home and that she has her main home with her husband then you would be considering benefit only on the one they own. The problem here though is that she may still remain liable for the rented property. If she took a tenancy of six months or longer then, under LGFA 1992, she in effect becomes the owner of that property and would retain liability for the duration of the tenancy. Depending on your local discounts policy that means she would still get a bill of between 50% and 90% of the full tax with no prospect of getting it reduced by CTB. There is provision in the LGFA92 for council tax to reduce her bill but I wouldn’t hold your breath on it!

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