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Thread: HB stopped

  1. #1
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    HB stopped

    Hello people

    I am getting quite scared because my housing benefit has stopped and my finances nowhere near meet my rent!
    I had a S21 notice last year and moved house at the end of April to the same town. The council suspended my old housing allowance at the end of April when I told them of my move and applied for HA at the new house, but have not paid me any money since then. I get ESA and PIP and was getting HA from the council until they stopped paying. The council housing department tells me not to worry, they are proceeding applications in order of receipt. Now I am worried that this will impact my ESA because it sounds like the council are not processing it as a continued claim, if that makes sense - so the DWP might stop my ESA and want me to start a new UC claim. Which would have been fine if the council would have told me 2 months ago that this is what will happen... But now I am totally skint.
    What can I do?
    Do I need to worry about my ESA and PIP?

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    I'm going through similar at the moment having just moved flat 2 weeks ago.

    HB stopped payment for the old place and 'suspended' the claim while they process it for the new place, but no payment for the new place yet.
    (And to complicate things a bit I also had to register for Council Tax which I wasn't liable for at the old place).

    They are very quick to stop payments for the old place, and issue Council Tax bill - but much slower processing the HB and CTR for the new place.

    I'm not that worried, I know that they take time, my new Landlord is a Housing Association and they are well aware of how long it can take a council to act.

    Your Council have said to you that they are processing your HB, so haven't said they have stopped it - 'Suspended' is not the same as 'Stopped'.

    If yours is a private landlord then it may be taking longer to get confirmation of you moving in and what your new rent is, hopefully your new LL will understand that he will get the rent once the council have sorted themselves out.

    It won't affect ESA at all, unless you do claim UC - nad that is your decision, nobody can force you to claim UC (yet).
    You should only have to claim UC if the council for some reason decide that you don't qualify for HB at your new place, again that would have happened quickly if they thought that.
    (And remember that if you did claim UC it would take them at least another 5 weeks to pay any UC Housing Element, possibly longer).

    It's nothing whatsoever to do with PIP and that will continue as normal.

    The first thing you should do is to keep your new landlord in the loop and explain that it's the council dragging their feet.
    While the LL probably won't be happy about waiting for rent, they will appreciate being told why that is and not just left in the dark.

    In case you are worried about another s21, remember that a LL can't serve an s21 notice while you are in your Fixed term, and even if/when they can serve one currently a s21 has to give a minimum of 4 months notice.
    Even after that 4 months notice you don't have to leave, they then have to go to court to get a possession order which can take another 6 months, and then bailiffs can take another 2 or 3 months to organise.
    So you can't be turffed out of the new place for a while yet. (Not legally anyway).

    On the practical side you should apply to your council for a "Discretionary Housing Payment" to cover your rent while they are sorting out the HB.
    (I will be applying for one if they don't get mine sorted out within another couple of weeks).
    Whilst those are more usually used to 'top up' rent that HB doesn't quite cover they can also be granted in circumstances like yours.

    If you do get a DHP then it doesn't have to be paid back.

    If nothing else then applying for a DHP should prompt the council to get your HB sorted out more quickly.
    Last edited by nukecad; 15-06-21 at 12:39.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    I'm going through similar at the moment having just moved flat 2 weeks ago.

    HB stopped payment for the old place and 'suspended' the claim while they process it for the new place, but no payment for the new place yet.
    Congratulations on getting your new place and "forever home" In a council house I think there are no section 21s to dismay you.

    I am incredibly relieved to hear that I'm not alone in this.
    Fortunatelyy I have some (rapidly dwindling) savings, enough for my rent next month.

    It was a private landlord gave us notice and his agent followed the law to the letter, very well organized! Not that we would have tried to go against him - I consider it very bad luck to live somewhere you're not wanted and bad planning to be evicted. And we have moved into another private rental. So it is unfortunately not guaranteed to be ours for ever.

    As you can see from the above, I am in a house share. The council was always fine with that before and presumably still are, but just very slow at paying.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    As you say slow and not a lot you can do yourself to speed them up.

    Applying for a DHP may give them a poke, as would getting a local advice organistion to help.
    Councils sometimes listen more to advisors than claimants.

    Hopefully if you do run short of rent then your new LL will have been through this before with other tenants and will know the issues.

    At your old place you may just have fallem foul of the fact that many "easy monry' landlords in the private sector are selling up.
    That had started to happen before covid, mainly because s21 is going to be abolished soon and they will no longer to be able to evict just brcause they want to, they'll have to show good reason to evict.
    (Which says a lot about those selling up).
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  5. #5
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Just to note that the gov.uk page on applying for a DHP was updated yesterday:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...using-payments

    I'd say your situation (and mine if my council don't get their fingers out) is covered by:
    You may get a DHP to cover housing costs for:

    • a rent shortfall
    HB being suspended while the council take their time sorting it out certainly results in a rent shortfall.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    I've just had a bundle of letters, all in one envelope, from the council.

    First a letter saying my HB had been 'terminated' - dismay for a moment until I realised the address on top was the old place.

    Then a letter saying that full HB would be paid at the new place, direct to the Housing Association.

    Then a letter saying that full CTR has been granted so no Council Tax to pay.

    Then a new Coucil Tax bill - for £56.30 - apparently the two weeks between signing the tenancy and moving in makes it a Second Home and so no discounts can apply.
    They want that paying at £7 a month, I'm not sure whether it's even worth challenging, it seems a bit harsh but technically they seem to be correct in law.

    Biscuit; hopefully you have also got yours sorted out, or will get a similar bundle of letters soon.
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    So very pleased for you Nuke whoop!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    I've just had a bundle of letters, all in one envelope, from the council.

    First a letter saying my HB had been 'terminated' - dismay for a moment until I realised the address on top was the old place.

    Then a letter saying that full HB would be paid at the new place, direct to the Housing Association.

    Then a letter saying that full CTR has been granted so no Council Tax to pay.

    Then a new Coucil Tax bill - for £56.30 - apparently the two weeks between signing the tenancy and moving in makes it a Second Home and so no discounts can apply.
    They want that paying at £7 a month, I'm not sure whether it's even worth challenging, it seems a bit harsh but technically they seem to be correct in law.

    Biscuit; hopefully you have also got yours sorted out, or will get a similar bundle of letters soon.
    I hope this thing ends soon for me too! my application was end of April.
    I had a 3 week rental overlap so I suppose that's counted as a second home then...

    My finances are still holding out. Just. In effect the council have missed 2 or 3 payments to date. If they miss another payment I'll be feeling a hard pinch. Plus my moving expenses were astronomical because my abilities are severely limited by MS.

  9. #9
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Just an update on the "Second Home for Council Tax purposes" situation.

    I've had the Council Tax Bill for a 'Second Home' removed, I got an email yesterday saying that they will send out a revised bill for zero Council Tax.

    It was a compromise decision and shows that the council can have sense at times.

    To start with:
    Although they weren't entirely sure they accepted my argument that it couldn't be a 'Second Home' for Council Tax purposes if I didn't have any other 'main' (First) home for Council Tax purposes.
    But note that argument can only work if you are not liable for CT at another property, if you are liable but not paying CT because of Council Tax Relief then it wouldn't work.

    However even with that acceptance there was a problem in that they then said that you have to be living in the property to get Council Tax Relief for it.
    I'm not entirely sure about that one, general rules in benefits usually have exceptions for particular cases, and I think that those particular circumstances may count for an exception.

    But I didn't have to go digging for exceptions because the guy at the council came up with an easier solution.

    He has applied a 28 day 'empty and unfurnished' CT exemption to cover the 15 days when I wasn't living here. *

    I did have to send them a (another) copy of the Tenancy Agreement and pictures showing that it was rented as unfurnished. No problem, because it was lockdown I have the 'viewing' on video.

    * I had mentioned that 28 days empty/unfurnished exemption in my original request, but I had assumed that the HA would have already used it.
    Landlords are usually liable for Council Tax during a tenancy void and so if the property is unfurnished will use that exemption to save money.
    But I'm now not so sure if this CT liability applies to Social Housing Associations as well as Private Landlords? I'll try to look that up.
    If the HA had already used one then the council guy has used his discretion to grant me a second one, councils do have discretion to do things like that.

    Which all goes to show that you should ask about such things.
    If you can show that what you are asking for is reasonable then the council will often go out of their way to help.
    If I'd just accepted it and hadn't asked then I'd have had to shell out an unnecessary £56.
    Last edited by nukecad; 22-07-21 at 10:04.
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