Request to pay HB direct refused as tenants not 2 months in arrears – can I appeal?

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  • #38960
    David Morrison
    Participant

    Hi guys

    My understanding of the changes to LHA/HB is that we landlords can request direct payment (to us) since last April, even if the tenant isn’t 8 weeks in arrears.

    I’ve got 2 tenants sharing a house at the moment, both claiming £86pw and they’re always late. They’ve been there 12months and the rent is always 2-3 weeks late, sometimes a shortfall is paid and I have to chase them every month. Most months, by the time I’ve collected the rent/shortfall, the next months rent is due and the cycle repeats. Despite trying to put standing orders in place, nothing seems to work with these guys. They get their HB paid into their bank in good time, its just that they spend it and I have to wait for their other benefit money to land before they pay me.

    Both guys are on DSS and are entitled to £86pw and that is what I charge them (no top up required).

    Both tenants have said to me that it would be easier if the council paid direct, so I phoned up the HB office this morning and asked about it and I was told “no, you can’t…. not unless they’re 2 months in arrears”.

    Would be grateful for any clarity here before I ring them back.

    Can you please advise?

    Thanks in advance

    David

    #110346
    David Morrison
    Participant

    Blimey… not as “black and white” as I had first thought!

    Thanks for taking the time to reply back with such an informative and exhaustive posting.

    There is no company involved – it’s just me (a sole trader landlord).

    Is there any kind of template letter on this forum I can download and model for getting my tenants to sign and perhaps a template for myself to model, that we can send to the HB office which quotes these regulations you mention above?

    Very interesting.

    Cheers
    David

    #110431
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    My view is that you should just appeal the LA’s decision. Its clearly in the tenants best interest and you are charging the LHA level so I see no problem.

    I have some landlord letters to put up so I will try to get them on the site by Wednesday next week.

    #110475
    David Morrison
    Participant

    That would be great Peter… look forward to the landlord letters, so I can model them.

    Cheers
    David

    #110481
    Andy Thurman
    Keymaster

    I think this should be straightforward enough given the new provision introduced in April.

    You simply need to state that without direct payment you are having to give serious consideration to ending the tenancy but that the assurance of direct payments would stop this.

    Kevin, why do you not think HBR 96(3)(b)(iv) can apply here?

    #110342
    Kevin D
    Participant

    Based on the info given so far, it would seem to be an uphill struggle to get HB paid directly under either regulations 95 or 96 of the HB Regulations.

    The only other possiblity that may be open is one that the LA may well consider to be hugely contentious (it’s certainly something that would make for an interesting Upper Tribunal case). Would the tenants be amenable to agreeing for payments to be made to you in the context of you being a “natural person”?

    If the tenants were so inclined, HBR 94(3) provides:

    “A person entitled to a rent allowance, although able to act on his own behalf, may request in writing that the appropriate authority make payments to a person, who if a natural person must be aged 18 or more, nominated by him, and the authority may make payments to that person.”

    Does this allow the claimant’s to make payment to you under this provision instead of HBRs 95 & 96? Tricky. There are a number of considerations here and those that have crossed my mind are set out below (in no particular order):

    – As a landlord, are you part of a company (i.e. Limited, registered with Companies House) or acting as a sole trader (or in partnership)? If the LL is a company, it is a different “person” from you. Outside the company, you would be a “natural person” and any payment to you would not, in law, be to the LL.

    – If there is no company involved, would it be possible to argue that payments can be made to you under HBR 94, irrespective of the provisions under HBRs 95 & 96? I honestly don’t know.

    – Is there a third party to whom payments could be made (under HBR 94(3) who would be able to forward them to you?

    – HBR 94(3) expressly requires a written request by the claimant.

    – HBR 94(3) expressly uses the word “may” in relation to the LA making payments to a third party. This means it is a discretionary matter and, any refusal by the LA could only be successfully challenged on the grounds of reasonableness.

    I appreciate the above is not even close to a definitive answer. But hopefully, it may help to at least focus some thoughts.

    #110532
    Kevin D
    Participant

    I’ve had second thoughts Andy but with a couple of caveats – I’ll finish this post later.

    #110645
    ghita
    Keymaster

    new template letters are up

    #110647
    David Morrison
    Participant

    Thanks Ghita…. brilliant 🙂

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