LL OP appeal

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    I would be grateful for any opinions on this case, especially from any posters who work for RSL’s.

    I have an OP appeal from a large RSL. Put simply we paid them twice for the same period. Official error definitely. The LL has now appealed.

    Their grounds of appeal are that they are a large organisation and do not have the resources to check each payment when received. This, they argue, means they could not have reasonably have been expected to realise they had been overpaid because they don’t have the staff.

    I have a certain amount of sympathy for them (they are a large RSL with whom we have a reasonable working relationship) but I find this ground of appeal worrying. Can any LL who gets lots of HB payments appeal on the grounds that they just don’t have the staff if there’s an official error?

    Any comments?

    Kevin D

    Is this not where the word “reasonably” comes into play? This is nothing more than a variation on a claimant arguing s/he is not expected to read notification letters (distinguished from being able to understand them). “Cake” and “eat it” spring to mind…

    {Edited to add}: Just thought about this. Assuming the LL is sent one schedule with several claimants listed, how can the LL possibly attribute the amount of payment to be credited against the individual rent account without referring to the very same schedule the LL purports not to have time to read?


    [quote:14eacd9909]how can the LL possibly attribute the amount of payment to be credited against the individual rent account without referring to the very same schedule the LL purports not to have time to read?[/quote:14eacd9909]
    Excellent point – I hadn’t thought of that 😳


    I suspect the answer to that question is [i:049d6d612a]”because a computer takes care of everything without any human intervention”[/i:049d6d612a]. But the Council’s counter-argument is that it is still reasonable to expect the landlord to have some kind of checking in place.

    John Boxall

    But were the duplicate payments were made at different times?

    If I send a schedule saying here is the payment for period bung and the landlords credit it to the tenants account, unless they keep a very detailed record, how might they reasonably be aware when I pay them a second payment for the same period at a different time? If the account were to go into credit that may raise a question but if it doesnt how might they ‘reasonably have been aware’

    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

    Clive Hayward

    This is a million years ago and of course one tribunal’s decision isn’t binding on another, but I’ve dug out a decision notice from a case heard in Exeter on 23/07/02. It was a case where we managed to pay HB twice to an RSL in respect of a pensioner. If memory serves, she moved out into a Home. There was originally an overpayment but we later awarded HB based on unavoidable liability but took no account of the fact we’d already paid once for the same period- so they got two payments for the same period a few months apart.

    In his Decision Notice, the Chairman rather splendidly said:

    “5. A reasonable landlord would have had systems in place to determine which HB payments were due and paid in respect of each tenant”.


    [quote:6f41a96235]But were the duplicate payments were made at different times? [/quote:6f41a96235]
    John – Yes they were.

    Thanks to all. 😀


    I work for an RSL.

    Each time we post HB to a rent account we also record the period that it is paid for. I have authorised repayment of overpaid HB where ‘duplicate’ payments for the same period exceed the rent charged, but equally have successfully defended recovery action where the total of the duplicated payments is less.


    A first tier tribunal decision is not binding on anyone except the parties to that case. Decisions of Upper Tribunals and Commissioers are binding but even then it must be remembered that every case is decided on its own particular facts.

    Whether a person can reasonably be expected to realise he was being overpaid will be a matter of judgement, but it is a determination of fact, not of law.

    Where HB is paid to a company such as an RSL, the person who may or may not be reasonably be expected to realise that too much benefit had been paid is the corporate body, not any individual employee of the organisation (see CH/4918/2003 -Mr Commissioner Mesher as he then was rejected the “we dont have the resources” argument in that particular case)

    I have lost a few appeals where the tribunal has held that it is incumbent on the housing association to have computer systems in place that work, but in those cases, the council had been able to provide evidence that the schedules showed clearly that benefit was paid twice for the same period and the amounts paid added up to more than the eligible rent.

    If the duplicate payments amount to no more tha the eligble rent, it is then easily arguable that the landlord cannot reasonably be expected to realise that benefit was overpaid. and similarly if the schedules or advice notes provided by the council are insufficiently clear.

    Clive Hayward

    Stainsby is quite right. This lady was on Income Support, and I’m pretty sure we did include schedules in the submission.

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