Two homes payment – can we try and sort this out?

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    I know this has been discussed before on HBINFO but maybe we can all agree on the law in one thread?

    “Where a person is liable to make payments in respect of two (but not more than two) dwellings, he shall be treated as occupying both dwellings as his home only—
    (a) for a period not exceeding 52 weeks in the case where he has left and remains absent from the former dwelling occupied as his home through fear of violence in that dwelling or by a former member of his family and”—

    so on.

    All very clear but there still seems to be a real question about who pays the benefit. For instance, a woman in private accommodation who flees domestic violence to a refuge in a differing borough. Who pays? The new borough pays it all? Both pay the claim for the adress in their borough?

    In my view,

    a) a person can never claim benefit in more than one borough for the same week;

    b) the right way to assess the claim is for the new borough to add the two rents together and assess the claim on the income / capital. Otherwise
    the income and capital will be counted twice;

    c) there is no requirement to apply seperately for a two homes payment; it is just part of the assesment.

    Yes, b) is inconvenient, IT systems do not support it. there is the Rent Officer referral issue etc. All administrative issues that have to be dealt with. Yet in my experience, new boroughs nearly always refuse to accept responsibility.

    Anyone agree / disagree?


    Hi Peter,

    Curiously I’ve been asked the same question this morning. My initial instinct was that the old LA should pay the benefit at the previous add, and the new LA pay the benefit at the current add – since administratively this appears to be easier to manage.

    The regs don’t seem to help much here, so I’d guess this is more a matter of subsidy implications than anything else.

    But thinking about it, would it not be the case that the old LA should cease HB from the Monday following the move and the new LA should therefore be responsible for paying both the new address and the two homes payment from the date the customer moves into the LA’s area?

    I’d be very interested to know what other people think?

    Kevin D

    I agree with the following principles (irrespective of Borough boundaries):

    1) the rents should be aggregated (this is, in my view, consistent with Reg 12).

    2) there should only be one claim, with one set of income / cap / applicable amounts etc.

    3) no separate claim is needed.

    The bit where I *may* differ is on the LA that should be assessing.

    Taking the starting point as being that the clmt lives in Borough “A”, that is their main / sole residence. Nothing controversial so far.

    However, if the clmt moves to Borough B (assuming this is for temp absence; NOT permanent), my view is that Borough “A” should remain the relevant authority. This is on the grounds that “A” remains the clmt’s main / sole residence.

    If the clmt’s move is PERMANENT for any of the 2-homes rules, my view is that Borough “B” is the relevant LA.

    Clear as mud, I think….. 😯


    “My initial instinct was that the old LA should pay the benefit at the previous add, and the new LA pay the benefit at the current add – since administratively this appears to be easier to manage”.

    Sorry charlie but that just does not work. Take the following example. Claimant gets weekly income of £150 per week and has savings of £10,000. The rent at both the new and old property is £100 per week.

    The right way is to work out entitlement on a rent of £200 per week and will give a completely different answer to two boroughs assessing the claim individually.

    Neil Adamson

    So are we saying that even if the move was within the same Authority then the rents should be aggregated rather than considered as two claims for the same period?


    Yes Neil, absolutely!

    Neil Adamson

    Well is that how everyone out there deals with two homes liability within their own area?

    Kevin D

    [quote:53ed84bf9c]Well is that how everyone out there deals with two homes liability within their own area? [/quote:53ed84bf9c]

    Er, no. 😯 But I still think Peter D is correct on that point.




    As far as I know, the LAs I’ve worked in award overlapping benefit by calculating entitlement seperately on each property, effectively taking into account two lots of income and capital. Although I make no statement as to whether this is correct or not, very likely simply a matter of the way IT systems work.

    Can I ask for a little more clarification why you consider that if the move is permanent, authority B should be liable for paying benefit at both addresses? What regs support this? I just ask because this is the issue I’m dealing with at the moment.


    Neil Adamson

    Sorry, just to clarify I am now convinced that is the correct way but it has not been our way!

    Just wondered how many others out there have been doing this “incorrectly”?


    Section 134(1B) of the Social Security Administration Act says “….housing benefit shall take the form of a rent allowance funded and administered by the local authority for the area in which the dwelling is situated…..”

    Therefore, it would appear that the authority for the area someone moves to temporarily has to pay HB. However, paragraph (5) of Section 134 goes on to say “Authorities may agree that one shall discharge functions relating to housing benefit on another’s behalf” – isn’t this the sort of situation envisaged by this provision?

    In terms of calculating actual entitlement – if the tenant is on IS/JSA/PC or otherwise entitled to maximum HB there’s obviously no problem. If they are entitled to only partial HB on the property they have fled from, then they should automatically be assessed as being entitled to maximum HB on the property they have moved to. Someone on partial HB has a residual rent liability (65% of the difference between their income and applicable amount) which is all they should be expected to pay. They should continue to pay that in respect of their “old” address, and should not / cannot be expected to pay anything in respect of their temporary address.

    The problem really arises where the tenant is not eligible for HB on their “old”home on income grounds, and only becomes eligible when they move and are paying a much higher rent – i.e. when the two rents are aggregated. Surely Section 134(5) of the Administration Act supplies the solution – one authority agrees to award HB by aggregating the rents and awarding HB on the total, payable either to the tenant, or direct to the landlord of temporary property – there would be no reason to split the HB between the two landlords, as the tenant stiill retains a liability to pay rent to the “old” landlord which they should pay out of their normal income, as they were before.


    Thats very helpful – thanks for clarifying that Bob.


    Would you believe it, I’m dealing with a case where the claimant has moved from our area to a neighbouring authority.

    We initially refused the overlap (but on the grounds that it was unreasonable) and he appealed.

    When putting the appeal together, it became apparent that one of the changes of circs that ends HB is that the claimant has moved away from your area.

    I don’t then see how we could legally pay past this point as:

    1. the claim is effectively dead

    2. to get dual liability he must be in occupation of his new address – a decision that would be made by the new authority,

    so surely it must be for the new authority to make a decision on whether he can be treated as occupying 2 homes.

    Just my thoughts and it is Friday and it is hot and I need a holiday and………..

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