New Claim – History of Rent Arrears

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  • #38460
    liffe
    Participant

    We have received a claim from a customer who we know has a history of rent arrears with previous landlords, and has a known drugs problem.
    He has completed the latest form & not signed the permission to discuss with landlord & has told us they don’t know he will be claiming benefit.
    Where do we stand with making direct payment to landlord in this caes, or must we pay claimant under DP?

    #108453
    AndrewDonald
    Participant

    Hi,

    sounds like the landlord didnt get references so this one may be a hard lesson learned.

    That aside what about making first payment to the landlord (reg96 HB regs 2006). That would alert the landlord.

    Or if the award was delayed and 8 weeks arrears accrued (the tenant would need to confirm this).

    Most unusual for a benefits practitioner to be looking out for a landlord. :bigsmile: Gold star of the day :star:

    #108499
    Anonymous
    Guest

    You can get around the DPA where there is a requirement or duty to pay the landlord (ie 8 week’s arrears). However the things you mention – history of rent arrears, claimant unlikely to pay – only give you the discretion to pay the LL. Even the option to pay the first 8 week’s is discretionary so I would be careful about breaching the DPA by notifying / paying the landlord.

    I would pay the claimant but keep a close eye on the case for the next couple of months and request proof of rent paid as-and-when it’s due.

    #108504
    Kevin D
    Participant

    In my view, if payment was to be made directly to the LL, the claimant would have no cause for complaint so long as the LA properly considered the basis on which it reached that decision. Under s.35(1) of the DPA, “Personal data are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions where the disclosure is required by or under any enactment, by any rule of law or by the order of a court.” Simply put, if the LA follows the legislation and makes properly considered decisions where judgement and/or discretionary calls are required, there will be no breach of the DPA.

    Although in a different context, it was found in R(DLA) 04/02 that where a claimant makes a claim for benefit, s/he accepts there is degree of interference with his/her private life and such interference is not, in itself, a breach of the Human Rights Act (again, on the assumption that the decision making process was properly undertaken).

    Will the clmt give allow you to contact his Support Worker? Also, can the clmt offer any evidence of rent being paid so far?

    #108506
    liffe
    Participant

    The customer in question’s drug problem is known through ‘local knowledge’, and i’m afraid he does not have a support worker!! He has paid rent in advance which he says he borrowed from his father.

    #108507
    Kevin D
    Participant

    I was trying to put myself back into “decision maker” mode. Not a great experience… :).

    What would I do? My inclination is to write to the clmt stating that the LA is considering paying the LL directly on the grounds that is in the interests of the clmt to do so. The reasoning would presumably be something along the lines of balancing the history of arrears elsewhere (more than one occurrence?) and the likelihood of a recurrence and the consequences of arrears being eviction, the latter being the reason why the LA concluded it was in the interests of the clmt to pay the LL.

    That way, the clmt has an opportunity to put his case. IF one of the reasons for not wanting payment to go to the LL was stated by the clmt as being the LL would evict a benefit clmt, I’d probably then decide to pay the clmt. Otherwise, I think the LL.

    By making the additional enquiries, the LA should be in a sound position in the event of a complaint / dispute from EITHER party.

    #108545
    Andreas
    Participant

    I would also add that it is wise to be cautious in these scenarios…

    A landlord may seek compensation if it is clear you did not investigate fully whether or not payment should be made to them (based on the information you already hold) and assuming they are/become aware the tenant is claiming HB of course… I’m sure a UT Judge will want to see the evidence used to make the decision not to pay the landlord (best interests, not fit and proper etc)

    Even if the landlord doesn’t find out and appeal/complain/refer to ombudsman an auditor may not look upon your decison favourably unless you can justify it.

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