Rent Service referrals and Pensioner Claims

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  • #20241
    Darren Broughton
    Participant

    Our computer system automatically gives us a list of cases that need re-referring to the Rent Service as the decision is 52 weeks old.

    We are checking that the customer has not reported any change in rent, and then rereferring using the most current details held.

    This has created a bit of a problem –

    Nov 03 – Based on info from computer scan, we referred a case to the Rent Service based on most current rent details held (we did not contact customer to verify rent we were using is correct). The decision came back at the same level of the previous year and was actioned from Nov03 as per procedure.

    Feb04 – Claimant notifies us that her rent increased in Nov03, just before we referred to Rent Service.

    Because rent change is one of the things that a pensioner must report to the LA, do we apply the better off/worse off rules for CICs? In fact, can I even reapply to the Rent Service since the decision is still valid?

    Is there any requirement for the LA to contact a customer to verify that that rent details we are giving to the Rent Service are correct?

    The 3 options I seem to have are –

    (a) Accept that we should have contacted customer to verify rent. Re-refer to Rent Service based on new rent and input to claim from Nov03.

    (b) Rerefer to Rent Service based on new rent and input to claim from Feb04 when we were notified

    (c) Keep the claim running with the current Rent Officer decision until 52 weeks are up, then refer with new rent.

    Any help or guidance would be appreciated – have any other LAs had this problem?

    #2470
    Anonymous
    Guest

    It is up to the claimant to advise the Benefits section of an increase in his or her rental charge, and should be done so within a calendar month of the change.

    As to referring it to the rent officer again it will depend on whether it is a ‘relevant change of circumstance to the rent’. Have a look in 2003-2004 Zebedee book (guide to housing and council tax benefits) page 100, this might help.

    #2471
    Darren Broughton
    Participant

    Thanks Susan, this is basically what we were looking at doing.

    It does seem to be causing some problems for us in that we are referring to the Rent Service based on previous rent proof supplied (unless they are notifying us of a change).

    We are then getting customers (a couple of months down the line) informing us that their rent increased prior to us referring the rent to the Rent Service, but they forgot to tell us. This wouldn’t have happen whilst we had renewals since we would always ask for up to date proof of rent.

    #2472
    Anonymous
    Guest

    I know its a pain but hopefully it will get claimants into the habit of notifying the LA when the change occurs. Though if I’m my usual cynical self I doubt this will happen, however many times they lose out.

    #2473
    lyndah
    Participant

    Just an idea but you could run your list in advance and wrte to the claimants to tel them their rent is due for referral and to confirm the level of rent and ask them to provide proof where it has changed.

    This could be time consuming depending on the number of referals you have to do, but is a good customer care exercise especially for the older claimants who used reviews to notify us of increaes. Depending on you system you may be able to use mail merge and speed things up!

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