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House Guest Benefit Claim?

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Bit of a complex issue, so I will try and keep things brief:

I am 37 and I have recently inherited my house. I now own it outright - no mortgage.
It's a nice house in a rural area, but needs some work doing to it.
I sold my flat and moved here, so I don't really know anyone.
I gave up my job and am planning to use the money from the flat to live on and renovate my house. Then find another job nearby (wasn't enjoying my old job anyway).

My cousine recently came to visit me and brought a friend with her. This friend is a 19 year old girl with a young baby. She has recently split up from her boyfriend and has been staying with my cousine, in her flat.

They both stayed in my house for a few days. We got on ok. When my cousins left, asked if her friend could stay with me for a while, as there wasn't much room in her flat. I agreed, so my new house guest has been in my house for a few weeks now.

Everything is going fine. The baby doesn't disturb me. My new house guest has hardly any belongings with her. My cousine calls in and helps with the baby and cooking, cleaning etc. I haven't asked for any rent money.

So it's all good from a domestic point of view.

But regards paperwork; should I be formalising things?

I'm guessing this girl would now be classed as a lodger?
So should I go ahead and inform insurance company and council tax etc?
Do I need to have a lodger contract?
I don't want to ask her for rent. So could she be classed as a House Guest long term?

Could my house guest claim benefits, without a formal lodger contract?

A friend told me he doesn't think that single parents are allowed to claim housing benefit as lodgers. He thinks they need a formal tenancy contract for their property. He also said that as this girl has a child, I would not be able to evict her, so I would need landlord insurance.

I've had a look online; there are a few articles about single parents moving in with other single parents, but I am a man without children - so could this girl be my lodger, even though she has a baby with her?
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Comments

  • Indie_Kid
    Indie_Kid Posts: 23,077 Forumite
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    To claim housing benefit, a formal tenancy agreement is required.
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  • Penguin_Biscuit
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    Thanks for the replies.
    The house isn't in a very good state at the moment - being renovated.
    That's one of my concerns about formalising this arrangement - no safety certificates, potential insurance problems etc.

    Indie Kid - that's what my friend said - ie single parents can't claim as lodgers - only tenants.
    He thought it was something to do with protecting them from eviction and avoiding overcrowding. His wife previously worked in benefits / housing etc. She thinks it's not a good idea and that the benefits dept will want to come around and check the circumstances...
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,862 Forumite
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    edited 2 September 2015 at 4:25PM
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    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Topcat1982
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    Anyone would need a tenancy agreement for HB, not just single parents. This is a mute point since you're not charging her rent.

    However if she is claiming anything else as a single parent (income support etc) you will have to be prepared to prove you're not a couple
  • Penguin_Biscuit
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    How do you prove you're not a couple?
  • NYM
    NYM Posts: 4,066 Forumite
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    If she's Ukrainian, how long has she been living in the UK ?
  • Penguin_Biscuit
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    NYM wrote: »
    If she's Ukrainian, how long has she been living in the UK ?

    I'm not sure. She was in Slovakia for quite a long time. She may be registered as Slovakian.
  • Penguin_Biscuit
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    Thanks for replies.
    House guest is now planning to move out.
  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,609 Forumite
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    Probably no bad thing. If you had gone along the lines of setting a formal tenancy it would have potentially provided her with security of tenure etc and created problems if things did go wrong and you wanted her to leave.
  • Penguin_Biscuit
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    I was thinking of making her a lodger, rather than a tenant.
    But I wasn't sure if a single parent could be a lodger. Someone told me that single parents could only be tenants.
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