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I need to claim housing benefit but I don’t have a written tenancy agreement

We received this question from one of our members.

The Question:

Dear Tenants Tips

I am currently renting a house that I have been living in for some time. My landlord comes to the house each month to collect the rent in cash. I have no written tenancy agreement. In the current economic environment I have lost my job and I am forced to claim housing benefit in order to pay the rent. I have been in touch with the housing benefit office and they have asked me to provide a copy of my tenancy agreement to prove that I am renting the property I am living in. Obviously, I cannot do this as I don’t have a tenancy agreement. I have asked my landlord on several occasions to draw up a tenancy agreement for me to sign, but he doesn’t seem interested in doing this or he doesn’t know what to do. I am unable to sustain the rent as I have limited savings so I really need to make a claim for housing benefit so I can pay the landlord his rent. Is there anything that I can do to get my landlord to provide a tenancy agreement as I won’t be able to claim housing benefit without one and then I won’t be able to pay my rent and I will ultimately end up in arrears.

Any help is well appreciated!

The Answer:

Firstly, it’s important to explain your situation to your landlord. Emphases the fact that without his help you will not be able to pay his rent and will therefore fall into rent arrears, make sure that he understand knock on impact on his circumstances. At the end of the day if your landlord doesn’t help you, it is him that will also lose out in lost rent at the end of the day.

Normally, the housing benefit office will accept a written letter from your landlord confirming the key details of your tenancy if you don’t have a written tenancy agreement.

Now, obviously your landlord seems a little unwilling to provide a written tenancy agreement so you might have a little difficulty getting him to write a statement confirming you tenancy arrangements – right? Well maybe – but your landlord must provide written confirmation of the terms of your tenancy once you have requested this information according to the Law. Under Section 20A of the Housing Act 1988, a landlord has a duty to provide information regarding the key terms of a tenancy even if there is no written tenancy agreement. The tenant must place a written request to the landlord for written confirmation of a verbal tenancy agreement. It is a criminal offence if the landlord fails to provide written confirmation confirming key details of your tenancy within 28 days.

We have prepared a letter that you can send to your landlord to request this information related to your verbal tenancy. It won't be possible to apply for housing benefit if you do not have a written tenancy agreement or written confirmation of the terms of your verbal agreement.

Letter to the landlord asking for confirmation of tenancy when you don't have a written tenancy agreement

You can find out more about the details your landlord must provide in accordance to Section 20A of the Housing Act 1988 in the article below.

I don't have a tenancy agreement