Partner – or not?

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    The claimant is living in the same house as his landlady and her daughter. He is by admission her daughter’s boyfriend.

    HB has been disallowed under the close relative provisions – they have been treated as partners.

    Claimant has now appealed on the grounds that they are not partners, merely boyfriend and girlfriend.

    He states that they have seperate rooms (there are 4 bedrooms in the house so this is possible), do not pool resources, etc and do not have a sexual relationship. The claimant is disabled and his girlfriend (and her mother) do help to care for him.

    I’ve seen reference to CSB/150/1985 in the latest CPAG in which it was found that 2 Mormons living in the same household and who were engaged could not be treated as an unmarried couple.

    Anyone got any thoughts on whether they are a couple or not?


    It is for the assessment officer to decide if they are living together as “husband and wife”. I am not really sure any CD’s will help here – it is very much a question of judgement and balance on this claimant’s individual circumstances.

    The fact that they declare themselves as girlfriend/boyfriend and she helps to “care” for him would suggest they are to be treated as a couple.

    The fact that they have no sexual relations and do not pool resources suggests otherwise.

    Others may disagree with me and I think that is the point. I would suspect that no two Tribunal Chairs would agree on this either.


    One point worth mentioning is that the close relative definition does not cover members of a couple – married, civilly partnered or otherwise shacked up. The definition includes the patrner of a close relative, but not the claimant’s partner.

    There is actually no provision that specifically caters for tenancies between members of a couple. I think the best a Council can do with cases like this is to rely on the usual three grounds for dodgy tenancies:

    – there is in reality no intention to create a binding liability;
    – if there is, it cannot be a commercial relationship;
    – if it is, it is set up to take advantage of the scheme

    My view would be that it is extremely difficult for two people to be a couple and parties to a commercial contract – such relationships seem to me to be mutually exclusive. In particular, if you have a case where an erstwhile commercial tenant forms a relationship with the landlord/landlady, I think non-commercial is about all you’ve got to go on.


    In the example given, the landlady is the claimant’s girlfriend’s mother so, assuming you established the claimant and the girlfriend were partners, it would be covered by the close relative regulations.

    As Peter points out, the situation would be different if he was actually renting from his girlfriend, as partners are not close relatives as far as HB is concerned.

    Going back to the original case, it is suggested that the claimant is disabled. Has he been awarded Income Support as a single claimant? If so, although the DWP’s findings on household composition are not binding on the LA (see CH/1502/2004), it would be persuasive that him and his girlfriend should not be treated as partners. You would still have the question on whether the liability is commercial though.


    Yes, sorry, I didn’t read the description of the living arrangements properly. Your case has got nothing to do with couples renting from each other – ignore my earlier comments.

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