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  • FIRST POST
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 9th Mar 18, 3:27 PM
    • 3,555Posts
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    AndyPix
    Housing Benefit overpayment
    • #1
    • 9th Mar 18, 3:27 PM
    Housing Benefit overpayment 9th Mar 18 at 3:27 PM
    Hi all, im looking for a bit of advice - not sure if this is the right section though ...


    roughly 15 years (!!) ago, i was claiming jobseekers and housing benefit.
    Then I got a new job, and duly informed the jobcentre of this .


    Proceeded along happily paying my rent.


    Fast forward 10 years, and i have a notice of "Housing benefit overpayment" land on my doorstep


    I called them to find out what was going on and they say that I didnt inform them I had a job, so they carried on paying the landlord for some months.


    Now when i made my claim back then, it was all done with a miriad of forms that i got from the jobcentre, filled out at the jobcentre, handed in at the jobcentre and was reviewed and signed off at the jobcentre. At no point did i go anywhere else or do anything with "another entity", ie housing benefit.


    So when i informed the jobcentre i had a job, and my jobseekers stopped, i was under the (wrong i see now) impression that everything would just stop - how would i know any different ?


    The worst thing is, that the landlord agency (a comany called Homelets), no longer trade.
    So although i have never seen a penny of this money as it was paid direct to landlord, and i was also paying my rent, i have no one to go to to complain about this.


    It all feels very unfair.


    When i have tried to explain all this to the council, they say i have to pay it - and i cant appeal it as the deadline for any appeal is well past (how can i appeal when i dont know about it ??!!)


    So now i have a horrible company called PS&P chasing me, who seem to be some kind of bailiffs.


    I really dont want to pay this on principle - does anyone know where i stand legally ?
    I would love to get this taken to court somehow as im sure a judge with any common sense would agree im not liable for it ..


    Or maybe i am - i just dont know
    Running with scissors since 1978
Page 1
    • Ames
    • By Ames 9th Mar 18, 3:42 PM
    • 17,244 Posts
    • 30,375 Thanks
    Ames
    • #2
    • 9th Mar 18, 3:42 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Mar 18, 3:42 PM
    You owe the money, unfortunately, so you'll have to pay. The onus is on the claimant to understand what they're claiming and it's clear on the forms (and was then) that you have to tell them of any change in circumstances.

    As it's with bailiffs it's probably best to post on the debt free wannabe board as they're the ones who understand the law on what and how debts can be enforced.
    Unless I say otherwise 'you' means the general you not you specifically.
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 9th Mar 18, 3:46 PM
    • 3,555 Posts
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    AndyPix
    • #3
    • 9th Mar 18, 3:46 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Mar 18, 3:46 PM



    But i did tell "them" - i told the same people who i originally made my claim with - ie the jobcentre ..


    Thanks for the input Ames - I see this is going to be tricky .. I wouldnt mind if i had actually benefited in some way from this money - but it is the landlord who was paid twice !!.


    Like i said, it feels very unfair


    Could a mod move this for me please ?
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • Caz3121
    • By Caz3121 9th Mar 18, 4:15 PM
    • 11,195 Posts
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    Caz3121
    • #4
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:15 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:15 PM
    i told the same people who i originally made my claim with ie the jobcentre ..
    Originally posted by AndyPix
    your housing benefit claim would have been from your local council so at one time you must have claimed.
    although the claims are not intrinsically linked, at some point (possibly weeks later) the council would have received notification of your JSA claim ending so would have stopped payment and written to you.

    If you left the property, it seems unethical of the agent to have retained a positive rent balance and it should have been returned to you (even though you were unaware of it) so you in turn could have made the overpayment at the time. Was there anything you recall at the time of the deposit being refunded?
    Last edited by Caz3121; 09-03-2018 at 4:19 PM.
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 9th Mar 18, 4:23 PM
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    AndyPix
    • #5
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:23 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:23 PM
    Hi thanks for replying ..


    If I remember rightly, way back then the claim for housing benefit was just another form that you filled in as part of the "signing on" process .. All at the jobcentre..


    Yes it seems like that is what has happened, It must have been 8 weeks or so until they were notified as the amount is for 8 hundred pounds and some change. You think the landlord would have let me know that they were still being payed by the council so i could have done something about it :/


    I stayed in that property for roughly 6 months after that (its hard to remember exact details as it was a good while ago) and I was never told about this or offered any kind of refund.
    I payed the rent in cash back in those days .. It all seems very quaint when you look back . paper forms, no online banking (no online fullstop !!)..


    I guess as no court order is in place then they cant send real bailiffs can they ..
    But i dont want this hanging around - I want a judge to look at it and tell me if I have to pay.


    If they do, I will - But i really think they should be chasing the company who had the money rather than me
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • BorisThomson
    • By BorisThomson 9th Mar 18, 4:26 PM
    • 1,586 Posts
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    BorisThomson
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:26 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:26 PM
    You would have completed a housing benefit form, although this may well have been handed in at the Jobcentre. However you would have received entitlement letters from the local authority, which would have advised that you needed to inform them of any change in entitlement.

    After such a length of time the authority cannot pursue this debt through the courts, but they can recoup the debt either via an attachment of earnings or via deductions from current or future benefits. They don't need a court order to do this.

    I can understand it feeling unfair. There is fault on all three sides, and it may be worth getting in touch with your local councillor to see if they can assist. Some are more helpful than others!
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 9th Mar 18, 4:28 PM
    • 3,555 Posts
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    AndyPix
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:28 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 18, 4:28 PM
    ^^ Great advice - I would have never thought of that ..


    Thanks Boris, I'll hit my local councillor up and see what they say ..


    Fingers crossed
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • pmlindyloo
    • By pmlindyloo 9th Mar 18, 5:07 PM
    • 11,499 Posts
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    pmlindyloo
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 18, 5:07 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 18, 5:07 PM
    First of all when did you receive the letter about the overpayment? You have one month from the date of the decision letter to ask them to review the decision.

    Are you within that time limit?

    Here is the guide to HB overpayments:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/405550/hbopg-part-4-recovery-of-overpayments.pdf

    Recovery of Overpayments in particular.

    After a brief read it is extremely complicated as the rules in force at the time of the overpayment are the ones that need to be enforced. - 2002? and the legislation has been amended twice since then.

    Are you sure that Homelet was your landlord - wasn't/isn't that a letting agent?

    In any case this is very complicated and you are going to need some advice. Have you got a large CAB where there is a benefits specialist. It might be worth giving them a call as they may be able to refer you to someone who can help.

    I have skim read the guide so if anyone has time to go into it in more depth then that would be great.

    Another interesting point is that housing Benefit overpayments do not have to be recovered so they may take the view that the landlord was at fault and deem it unrecoverable.

    Contacting your MP/councillor is a good idea.

    From my brief read it seems that there are circumstances when the rent has been paid directly to the landlord when the overpayments should be recovered from the landlord.
    • Alice Holt
    • By Alice Holt 10th Mar 18, 9:33 AM
    • 2,028 Posts
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    Alice Holt
    • #9
    • 10th Mar 18, 9:33 AM
    • #9
    • 10th Mar 18, 9:33 AM
    Per pmlindyloo

    "Another interesting point is that housing Benefit overpayments do not have to be recovered so they may take the view that the landlord was at fault and deem it unrecoverable.
    From my brief read it seems that there are circumstances when the rent has been paid directly to the landlord when the overpayments should be recovered from the landlord."


    Seems to me this could be the best tack to take.

    I'd tend to put in a letter to the LA HB dept headed "Appeal" quoting the date of the letter you have recently received, the fact that you made rent payments (can you get bank statements to prove this?), etc, and ask the LA to recover it from the LL since they were receiving duplicate rental monies and should have returned the LA money to them as you were paying in full for the same time period.

    However, the LA did not make an official error (as you notified the DWP not the LA of your change of circumstances), so in general terms this overpayment is recoverable:
    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Benefits-Overpayment/What-if-I-am-overpaid-Housing-Benefit-or-Council-T
    https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/housing_benefit/housing_benefit_overpayments
    http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/housing-benefit-overpayments-%E2%80%93-who-liable

    I think your best bet may be to do some research, and try to persuade the LA to recover it from the LL - but it may be a long shot.
    • tboo
    • By tboo 11th Mar 18, 1:35 PM
    • 654 Posts
    • 3,923 Thanks
    tboo
    Normally overpayments can only be recovered from the landlord in small circumstances eg they knew you had vacated the property.

    Now as the land lord wouldn't have known you got a job - unless you told them - the o/p is recovered from you.

    Form filling in at the jobcentre was on HB forms and then passed along to the LA.
    But it did change in April 2003

    Since April 2003, customers getting Income Support, Jobseeker Allowance or Pension Credit have been advised to send all HB/CTB application forms (HCTB1) directly to their local council for processing. Despite these instructions, some customers still takes their HB/CTB forms to the Social Security Office/Jobcentre Plus office for forwarding to the LA, for example, where a means tested benefit is also claimed.

    By the time the LA was aware you had started work there may well have been a delay of a few weeks. The LA only knew of changes from the DWP when they received notifications via a very old system on a Remote Access Terminal which was viewed daily and by a select few.

    Onus is still on the claimant to tell of these changes though and to the LA as well.
    Last edited by tboo; 11-03-2018 at 1:38 PM.
    started on the No Clutter thread - 25/01/2018
    “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don't worry and be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” —Walter Hagen
    I don't have a diary but I do aim to be mortgage free by the beginning of August 2018
    30/04/18 £3600 to go // 15/05/18 £2349.37 to go
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