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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69361
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I recieved a letter from Merton council to inform me that my

Customer Question

I recieved a letter from Merton council to inform me that my housing benefit would be cancelled from 12/9/2011 because i had moved out.I had sent notice that I was quiting the tennancy and this was comfirmation of that.they scince wrote to tell me that an overpayment was made on this property from 12/9/2011 to 18/12/2011 and I have to pay back 1,728.16.I have now written three times to explain that I did not recieve the payments,they were always payed directly to Merton Priory Homes,and that it was there error.They are saying they did not recieve my notice to quit,though there original letter confirms they were aware of the date of my departure.
After being contacted a couple of weeks ago the conclusion seemed that an independent tribunal would decide the matter,but all I have had since is a final demand.
What do I do next.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Can they really hold me to account for an overpayment i didn't recieve because they claim I did not serve notice,which I did.How would they know I had moved otherwise.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Do you have a copy of the letter from them or your notice?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have all the letters sent by them,but no copy of my notice,which they told me would not prove I gave them it even if I did I
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

Are you on benefits?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I get housing and bereavement benefit
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks. Just a bit more digging if thats OK?

I presume that your landlords would have known that you had gone as well and didnt' report this to the council?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Merton Priory Homes were the landlords and were supposed to be notified by Merton council
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, but forget that.

Would it have been obvious to your landlords would have known that you had gone as well and didnt' report this to the council?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes,other than receiving rent statements from them and maintenance Imfo I had no link to them.as I said payments went directly from Merton to Priory homes
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

I just need 10 mins to consider this if thats OK?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the information.

An overpayment is recoverable from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment. However in the case of a landlord it is only recoverable from them if they caused the overpayment or they could reasonably have been expected to realise there was an overpayment. If the landlord knew or should have know that you were not living there then they would be liable to repay.

On the face of it, you seem to be saying that the landlord would have known you were not living there and so should have reported it.

That aside though, if you did give notice then the fault lies with them. Obviously the fact that you have a copy of the notice would not prove that you sent it but it would give rise to an inference. If you haven’t got it though then there’s nothing that can be done about that.

You could rely upon the letter from them. It would seem to be something that could only have been a response to the service of notice by you.

You can appeal their decision if you disagree with it. You are not upon a benefit normally vulnerable to reductions if there is an overpayment so its relatively safe.

Its very unlikely that a prosecution under the criminal law would succeed so its safe from that point of view to ask them to prove what they allege against you.

Overall, if you can suggest that you gave notice and could not have known that the property was being held open for you and rent being paid I think you have a very good challenge.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
That's great thanks,if this does go to a tribunal and I loose would I have costs to pay as well as the overpayment?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Not for a benefits tribunal.

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