Recovery of an overpayment from 2 people

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  • #39610
    admin
    Keymaster

    Any help would be appreciated.

    A benefit claimant and their landlord were both found guilty at court of fraudulently claiming housing benefit for the duration of their claim, which raised a large overpayment.
    We have obtain joint & several civil liability for the overpayment debt at County Court.
    Both the landlord and the claimant do not now have any capital (or property) from which to recover the debt. Both are now claiming full HB/CTB separately.
    As we have the joint & several ruling is it possible to make deductions from both of their HB claims?

    #112777
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Yes from the claimant. The landlord? Maybe. Technically it could be argued that the legislation precludes recovery from personal HB payments for an ex landlord but with proven fraud involved I would tend to argue that “fraud unravels all” and that public principle overrides here. You may have to be prepared to take this to UT if you are challenged on this but whatever the result, you would get a sympathetic hearing. I presume you have already sent a formal decision letter etc.

    The County Court Order offers nothing to you in the absence of assets ….apart from bankruptcy proceedings if you wanted a deterrent.

    #112789
    Kevin D
    Participant

    In my view, there isn’t any doubt that recovery can be sought from BOTH the claimant AND a third party so long as the overpayment is recoverable from both in the first instance.

    HBR 102(1) states: “Without prejudice to any other method of recovery, a relevant authority may recover a recoverable overpayment [b]from any person referred to in regulation 101[/b] (persons from whom recovery may be sought) by deduction [b]from any housing benefit to which that person is entitled[/b]…”

    HBR 102(2) simply places a maximum weekly amount on how much can be deducted from ongoing HB. In my view, the reference to “a claimant” in HBR 102(2) is purely in the context of who is NOW being paid HB; it doesn’t exclude persons who were previously overpaid in a capacity other than being a a claimant. In any case, para (1) has already determined the persons.

    #112790
    Kay_Tade
    Participant

    [quote=wjc]A benefit claimant and their landlord were both found guilty at court of fraudulently claiming housing benefit for the duration of their claim,[/quote]

    I can’t see why you can’t commence recovery on both.

    PS: Agree with KevinD’s analysis, ship has sailed on recovery, unless there is a dispute still waiting to be looked at[And as Peter pointed out, public purse principle will prevail, can’t see claimant/ladlord having a reasonable case if they/he/she have not put in a case yet]

    #112801
    admin
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the positive replies. We are sending new decision letters to them both, and at least this way the consequences of their fraudulent action will have some impact on them both.

    #112822
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Just out of interest was the fraud to do with actually being partners? I am only asking because I wondered if that made any difference to the options you have with methods of recovery.

    The fact that one was apparently a landlord and was then proven to be a partner (for example) means that for the purposes of recovery they are a partner and so I am not sure that recovery can be made from ongoing entitlement.

    #112831
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Which is one reason I said “maybe”. However I think proven fraud changes it as above. Otherwise you would have a situation where one of the parties paid all the debt back. HB regs are not sacrosanct in fraud cases as Judge Jacobs has said in a number of cases.

    #112837
    Kay_Tade
    Participant

    [quote=peterdelamothe]Which is one reason I said “maybe”. However I think proven fraud changes it as above. Otherwise you would have a situation where one of the parties paid all the debt back.[/quote]

    I agree with that, but my thoughts were, if a high court case hase been decided, and nothing from the post says otherwise, recovery falls back to the regs as prescirbed. Everyone is a target.

    Edtied: Just to say a situation arising after the fact, payments of debt, should not be an issue.

    #112848
    Kevin D
    Participant

    [quote=Kay_Tade]…I agree with that, but my thoughts were, if a high court case hase been decided, and nothing from the post says otherwise, [/quote]

    The info in the OP implies it was criminal conviction and, if that is correct, it would either have been at Magistrates or Crown Court. Curiously, so far as the “landlord” is concerned, a conviction would not in itself necessarily put him/her in the firing line. For the o/p to be recoverable from the LL, the LL would either have had to misrepresent or fail to disclose a material fact. If the LL was charged under a criminal provision other than one relying on misrepresentation or failing to disclose, the LA still has to show the LL falls within misrep and/or FTD.

    #112856
    admin
    Keymaster

    just catching up with the posts. The landlord & his tenant were found to be married and both were convicted at crown court, on the basis of misrep & failing to declare true facts. The landlord actually went to prison.

    #112892
    Kay_Tade
    Participant

    [quote=wjc]The landlord & his tenant were found to be married and both were convicted at crown court, on the basis of misrep & failing to declare true facts. The landlord actually went to prison.[/quote]

    Well, that was my thought, when I posted the reply so misrep comes in.

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