Housing Benefit Entitlement in Relative’s Property
Since the introduction of Local Housing Allowance, housing benefit payments have been paid directly to the person claiming it and then they need to pay the landlord themselves.
Is the property you live in owned by a relative?
If you are paying rent to a relative for a property you live in but they own you can still claim housing benefit. However, the local authority will study your tenancy agreement much closer than they might if you were not related to your landlord.
Because the property belongs to a relative there will almost always be suspicion that you are attempting to claim housing benefit fraudulently so the more proof you have that your claim is valid, the better.
Is your rent being paid on a commercial basis?
Paying rent on a commercial basis means that you pay rent every month to your landlord whether you are working or unemployed and claiming housing benefit. For example, if your landlord allows you to stay in the house for free when you are working but takes rent when you are unemployed, because you are receiving housing benefit, this would be seen as a contrived tenancy by the Housing Benefit Office. The fact that you are not paying rent when employed, at a time when you might not be entitled to housing benefit cements this view.
Has Housing Benefit turned down your claim?
If your claim for housing benefit has been turned down you have the right to appeal the decision but the first step is to as for what is referred to as a “revision”. You will receive a letter from them normally stating the reasons why your benefit claim has been declined.
The request for a revision must be made in writing within a calendar month of the date on the letter you have received from Housing Benefit. If by some chance they have not stated the reason for declining your application any time taken from asking them the reason why and their response will be added to the amount of time you have to ask for a revision.
What you should put in your letter to Housing Benefit
You should state all the reasons why you believe their decision is wrong backed up by as much proof as possible.
Providing proof that you are renting on a commercial basis.
If the house you are living in was previously rented out to other tenants, this will help prove that the property has been rented on a commercial basis. If your relatives have other properties that they rent out ask them to provide details of these and if your Housing Benefit claim
When you have finished the letter and got your proof, make photocopies and then you can either deliver the letter personally to the Housing Benefit office or send it my recorded delivery or registered post. Make sure you get a receipt for the letter if you deliver it by hand.
At the same time as posting or delivering the letter you can make an application for an appeal of their decision. Alternatively you can wait for them to review the decision which will not affect your right to appeal if it is unfavourable.