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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9324
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I have someone living in my property that is on housing

Customer Question

I have someone living in my property that is on housing benefit, he was doing some maintenance work to the amount of the rent which he kept in return for a few jobs, as I was not actually paying him I thought I was doing nothing wrong. Am I in trouble ? He told me he was leaving but I didn't get anything in writing and just thought he would go.Now he is refusing to get out of the flat and also still claiming the housing benefit and I have since found out he is claiming sick pay. So he is actually erning money out of staying in my property,doing no jobs and won't go. He also has horses on my land and refuses to move them. What can I do and do I need to inform the tax office of the arrangement and the fact I was unaware he was on the sick !
Many thanks
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

There is nothing wrong with getting someone to do work in lieu of paying rent. There is nothing wrong with paying people for doing work. You have done nothing provided you didn’t know that he was claiming benefits and not declaring any tax. If you did, you are potentially complicit with this fraud.

It is the person that receives the benefit that must declare it to the revenue and the benefits people.

You need to advise the benefits agency and the tax office. You can do that anonymously and tell them the circumstances and ask them to confirm that if you give the information about this person to them, but you will escape prosecution. They will do that. If they refuse, don’t give them the details.

Tell him what you are going to do. You can’t make the threat that you’re going to do it unless he moves because he may allege blackmail.

If he refuses to go, you are faced with making a court application for an order for possession and if, after getting that order he still refuses to go, you then make a further application to court for a warrant for possession for bailiffs to physically come and throw him out.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thankyou, I knew he was claiming housing benefit and thought that was not my business and he was entitled to it for whatever reason but as far as sick pay I had no idea. He also has some of my equipment in a barn that he has padlocked can I cut the lock off to retrieve my items and what do I do about his horses which he isn't paying for , I have someone that wants to rent the field , does he have rights to keep them here . This property is above my garage and I have to see him every day and he has shown to be mentally unstable and is taking prescription drugs, I am scared for myself and my children as I live on my own here, he can be very verbaly abbusive but not physically as yet !
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

If you cut the padlock off, that’s criminal damage. You need to give him notice that unless he lets you into the barn by a particular date (I would give him seven days) you will arrange to have the lock cut off and you will charge him for a replacement. If you are cutting the lock off it’s as well to tell the police what you are going to do so that he cannot later alleged criminal damage. It only becomes criminal damage if you have a dishonest intention.

You can’t remove the horses obviously but you can lock the gate. In actual fact, you could give him notice under the Torts Interference with Goods Act that if he does not remove the horses within a reasonable period of time (say one month) you will arrange to have them sold and let him have the money they bring on sale less any disposal costs.

If you are doing that and selling them, there is a specific format that the letter needs to be in. For the purposes of the Act the horses are goods. Here is some reading on the act.

the letter would probably carry more weight coming from a solicitor.

You say the he is living in your property but then you say that you live on your own here. Does he share any facilities or living accommodation with you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live on my own with the children in a detached property and he lives in an annexe above my garage with its own facilities and electric meter etc which he also hasn't paid for, problem is its right outside my house overlooking my garden and drive so I can't get away or out of sight of him, we share the same access so he walks past my front door everyday, it is making me and my family very unsettled and I can't even walk through my field where his horses are without being accused of planning to steal them, he is acting very paranoid because he knows I have found out about his benefits. He is not making any attempt to move even though he has been given options to stay with his son and I have found him a field free of charge until he finds something himself, he is very unaproachable and unstable !! ( sorry about the bad spelling)
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

That is a shame. If you shared some facilities or living accommodation with him, you could simply have given him one months notice and then lock him out.

You are going to be faced with making an application to court to get him out.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

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Best wishes.


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
After reading my last response I have realised what you mean by facilities , we share water and electric even though I mentioned there is an electric meter it is a sub meter which is not used so I am paying all utility bills. Does this mean we share facilities?Lorraine Mitchell
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

No, I’m afraid it doesn’t. Sharing facilities would be kitchen or bathroom or some living accommodation.

What you are doing, sharing utilities, not facilities. Best wishes.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have done as you suggested and wrote him a letter (that I read to him as he does not read and write) .In brief it says "this is a letter to inform you that it has come to my attention that you have been claiming sick benefit whilst doing maintenance work for the past year @£120 per week, this being your housing benefit for the property you rent from me which I reimbursed you for works done including fencing etc. You have not done any work since the 10th June and therefor owe me 4 weeks rent to 8th July = £480 owing in rent.
The action I am forced to take on this is to report to the benefits office as I do not wish to be involved in any fraudulent activity.
My accountant is aware of any transactions with regard to rent and wages between ourselves and will be declared on my next tax return."He clearly was not happy and has said that he has never worked for me or own any ponies on my land , which I can prove he has worked and also owns the ponies by various text messages between myself and others and also everyone is willing to make a statement if needed stating the truth of the matter. There are a lot of people that are aware of the situation !
Problem is he says I knew he was on sick benefit which I didn't , I wouldn't employ someone not fit to work obviously. He only has his family to back his story who clearly don't want him back on there sofa !
I phoned the Benefit fraud number and they can't say say for sure I won't be involved even though I don't think I have done anything wrong so I gave no names for now but I think I have to go through with this as I am aware of what he is doing.
Please can you advise me with your opinion I don't want to start getting involved with a legal battle as he would get legal aid and I can't afford solicitors.Many Thanks

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