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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I have a dual role of Landlord and Grandma to my 21 year

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Hi, I have a dual role of Landlord and Grandma to my 21 year old Grandaughterwho has two children aged 2 and 1 years. She is single parent. I have bought a house close to me and the rest of her family specifically for her to live in. She cannot rent in this village as rental properties are rare and properties are way above the national average. The Housing Benefit office (Amber Valley is the district council) have refused her claim stating that as I am Grandma I have purchased this property for 'personal reasons' and that the tenancy agreement might not be genuine in any case. Just a bit history: My Grandaughter lived in another of my properties in Derby (Derby city council) and they paid her rent directly to me via Bacs. They knew I was Grandmother as I told them. I moved her from that house due to problems she was experiencing and decided that for her mental health and the wellbeing of her children to bring her into the family fold. I told Amber Valley that I would not evict her. (This was a mistake - i now realise). But I will be forced to evict her as I cannot afford for her to live rent-free. I need to appeal agaiinst their decision. But I worry that I will need to WORD it very carefully. Yours faithfully, Rita Merricks

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

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

Hi Jo,


I have outlined the scenario above. My Grandaughter is allowed to appeal against the decision that she is ineligible for HB payment due to the fact that HB has decided that she has no liability to pay the rent due, because the I, the Landlord, am also her Grandma. Their refusal is also based on the fact that the tenancy shows a rental charge of £550.00 but that I told them that if arrears accrued then I would not evict her. This is true I did tell them this, as I was aware the max they would pay her was £500.00 a month, but I also said that if in future her financial circs changed I would then be asking her to make up the shortfall. This appeal needs to be worded very carefully, I feel, and I am not confident that I am able to do this convincingly. Can you help me?

Are you asking me to draft the claim for you?

if so, I cannot do that under the rules of this site.

I can give you general information about your circumstances though.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo, i not looking for you to draft it, but I do need to watch my criteria. The HB believe that my relationship with the tenant is not a commercial one and that I am taking advantage of the HB, and that they have a duty to protect the public purse. But, if I had known this I would not have invited her to move from the Derby house (in which DCC paid me by bacs) and now I will have to evict her via baillifs. This will mean that Amber Valley will have to re-house her and pay for HB but they will offer her an area of high risk to her already vulnerable mental health. In sum, they will not be saving themselves any money! Just inducing emotional pain and upheaval. Is there any help or chance of avoiding this most undesirable situation.?

Did you declare your relationship when the application for housing benefit was made?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I did declare the relationship. The original application was made to DCC in Feb 2012 when she was pregnant with her first baby. I evicted existing tenants to make room for my grandaughter. I told DCC that I was grandmother and showed them the tenancy agreement. They agreed to pay. Due to domestic violence and her history of drug-abuse and other mental health issues, (police and social workers were frequent visitors to the Derby house), I at great expense whcih I could ill-afford I purchased a house for her her in DE56 with her family all in walking distance. She moved into Amber Valley HB area. She needed support to build her ego and sense of belonging. But now, Amber Valley HB say they will not pay as it is 'personal' and not a commercial arrangement. I assumed it was the person who was eligible but it is the house apparently. Thus, I will be evicting her. She will induce a huge downturn in her recently improved mental health and isolation once again will ensue. I fear the worst!

it is the person that is eligible but I can see immediately that the problem here is that they say that this is not a genuine arrangement.

People can rent to their relatives of course. They regularly do. Generally speaking the closer the relationship the more likely the DWP are to say its a personal deal.

The difficulty here though is that you have purchased a house specifically for her as you would not normally do for any other tenant. That is what will have turned their minds on the point.

Also the refusal to evict her is not helping.

There has been a general clampdown upon benefits for the last few years anyway.

In any event, you can appeal. The issue isn't really particularly how you word things. The issue is whether you have an explanation for those two factors.

The difficulty really that I can see immediately is that your explanation is basically that you were acting in her interests which tends to support their concern.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, you could just clarify one issue that still eludes me and it is this:


Only Grandaughter is allowed to appeal as she is the claimant, not me. I have not been refused -SHE has. It is just me who therefore does not receive! Paradoxically to argue her 'case' she has to talk about my intentions, my actions, my assumptions, my deeds, not her own, so she cannot 'own' her testimony. My second point is: I have precedents for behaving in an 'unlandlord-like' manner towards many of my tenants, especially drug-abusers and single parents. I have rarely taken a deposit of those struggling, I have fed one young couple for months, I have had a couple move in with me during a difficult transition, I have stored someone's stuff for them and lent them money.There exist many acts of kindness, (some of my friends say, 'idoicy') but I am a Volunteer for many organisations, I am a trained Counsellor and I am the most untypical 'Scum-Landlord' one could ever meet. I have never evicted a tenant yet, but many owe me thousands of pounds which I have been forced to write-off. So, how can my Grandaughter appeal using this evidence, that HB's 'image'of typical Landlord behaviour, is not consistent with ME! And besides, I cannot afford to allow her to live rent-free as I am now retired and far more careful with my money, no choice. How do I proceed>

Yes, that is right. She would have to appeal as she is the applicant. She has to address the same issues though.

She can always include a statement from you though covering these points and you can give evidence at tribunal if it goes that far.

You can include these details about how you generally act towards tenants. The difficulty is that whenever you should any leniency towards a family member it is used against you but thats not to say its not possible to succeed.

It really comes down to whether you can convince them that this is a genuine commercial deal. They will probably want you to establish that you are charging the market price for the area and that the property does not exceed her needs.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you.


These are valid points which I will give emphasis to in the statement which I will attach to my Grandaughter's claim. Her other set of Grandparents made up the shortfall in HB for the last house (of mine) and continue to send 'shortfall' cheques to me for current new house too. Do you think this fact would be useful in support of showing that rent is expected. Their paying the shortfall has not stopped just because Grandaugher now lives in a different house of mine. The rent for the last house was£550 pcm, as is this new house. But HB max for single Mum with 2 children for a 2-bed house is £500.00, so I got them to agree to pay the shortfall prior to letting the old house to her. I assumed this arrangement would continue from the Grandparents and HB. So far only the Grandparents have honoured and carried it forward as they know this is a commercial agreement, only HB have decided it is suddenly, 'not so'. Can I use this favourably do you think?


The more I think about this the more encouraged I feel...? Do you think so, or might I be weakening my argument.... (I have lost confidence in my own decisions lately)

Well, you may as well appeal. There is no risk in it for you as they cannot start alleging fraud.

In terms of which way it would go, its probably 50-50.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo, 50/50? I am feeling most pessimistic about outcome. Capitalistic Beauracy has no feelings. But, I have a contingency plan...can I run this past you? Here it is: I sell the house my Grandaughter lives in, she lives elsewhere for the time it takes me to sell it and give the proceeds to her Mum's, (i.e. my daughter) live-in partner who then buys another house in this same village and lets it to grandaughter. The result is: her eligibility for HB is restored as landlord is no close relative, is no relative at all. Cost is merely buying and selling and short-term inconvenience. In terms of risks to live-in partner being 'gifted' this property, it is an issue I will explore separately. When he came to declare his relationship to Grandaughter he could legitimately reply, 'NONE'. Sure, he is 'known' to her, but that is not the same thing as 'relationship'. Have I found a reliable way through this quadmire?

The risk of that is that they will catch up with the transfer and then she will be vulnerable to allegations of fraud.

They are really down on housing benefit now.