PRHP cases while the tenant is claiming housing benefit

06 May 2016

I know that PRHP cases are very rare but I thought I would blog about a shocking case that we have ongoing relating to a tenant who was claiming housing benefit while reporting a repair that ended up going all the way to a PRHP case.

Did you know that if a tenant is claiming housing benefit, they can continue to claim and receive the benefit personally WITHOUT having to pass it on to the landlord?? Apparently the scottish government have deemed that it is acceptable to continue to pay the claimant benefit pending the outcome of the case, suggesting that the claimant will “hold” the funds in an account with a view to passing them over if the claim is dismissed. I think most people would appreciate that it is fairly unlikely that any claimant will hold onto funds once they receive them! In our particular case, the tenant raised the case ( which was a charade from the oustet), pocketed the benefit, remained resident in the property until the bitter end, when a Sherriff Officer visited to evict. The condition we received the property back in was quite horrendous.

I want to raise this with someone at government level who might care enough to help change this shocking practise- why should the funds not be held in an independent account pending the outcoem of a case? In any other walk of life, that would be the case, but apparently not where housing benefit is claimed! Here is an extract of my letter to the councillor…

“Dear Councillor,

[various historical]

• After contacting housing benefit to ask how they plan to retrieve the £7k benefit paid to the tenant which was not passed over to the landlord and in reality, will never be retrieved directly from this individual, they advised they will do nothing to sanction xxxxx or attempt to recoup the monies she is holding. To clarify, she has benefited personally and pocketed £7,000 of government money , meant to go towards her housing costs. Surely most tax payers would not be comfortable knowing they are in effect “gifting “ funds to housing benefit claimants so they can live in a property and personally pocket the very funds meant to pay for that property? The claimant received the benefit claiming the property was not fit for purpose, it was found through the correct channels to be fit for purpose (PRHP) so why should she be entitled to that benefit? Surely the fair course of action in a case like this is for some independent body to hold the funds pending the outcome of the case? Can you tell me why that is not the case?
• Why will no one discuss the condition this person left the property in? She is now presumably a private tenant again claiming more benefit, surely the housing benefit office or her social worker should at the very least be aware of how she conducts a tenancy? She has xxxxx living in a property which has pet faeces, dead rodents- surely someone should know for xxxx welfare?
•xxxx
• This landlord has over £7,000 of arrears, expensive court costs, legal fees – they will never be able to reclaim that money but at the least, they would like to know that this tenant will not be able to do the same again- it appears no one at the housing benefit office can suggest they will even add any of the above to her file. Why is that the case?

xxxx”

It really makes my blood boil that some people feel this is an acceptable way to behave, and that no one at any governement agency is interested in this completely unfair situation. Comments welcomed as always and I’ll keep you posted if anyone bothers to reply



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