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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi - I am a landlord of a property and have tenants who are

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Hi - I am a landlord of a property and have tenants who are 2 months in arrears (plus other anti-social behavirou issues). I have served a section 8 and also now have housing benefit paying some of the rent directly to me. They now tell me that Housing Benefit want to rent assess the property. It is a large house with an attic as a fourth bedroom (which doesn't have planning permission) so technically shouldn't be let as a bedroom. I put this on the tenancy agreement but imagine housing benefit will assess the rent much lower. What are the implications for me?
Many thanks!

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

Do you mean in terms of the rent you can claim?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am wondering if HB can actually force me to lower the rent which means that I will either have to pay some back or put the tenants in a position where they are no longer in arrears so I will not be able to evict them.


I am also concerned because I am renting it as a 4 bedroom house despite being technically a three bedroom one. Not sure if this is illegal and what might happen if they come and assess it. Hope that makes more sense.


I am still hoping to resolve this outside court but want to kno my legal position as well.

Many thanks


I have an appointment in about 30 mins but I can look at this later this afternoon if thats OK?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That's fine thanks


Is there any reason this shouldnt be rented as a 4 bed house? It has got 4 bedrooms?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
The attic does not having planning permission so although a perfectly good sized bedroom, I understand that technically it should not be rented as a bedroom. I exPlained this to the tenants and wrote in the contract that it shouldn't be used as a bedroom but turn a blind eye to it. The rent however is for the cost of a dour bedroom house. I am worried that this could be used against me if it went to court as well as concerned about the rent being set lower.
Well, it could lead to a reduction in rent.

I'm not a planning lawyer. I don't know whether you can seek planning consent restrospectively. It might be worth looking at that.

If they do reduce the rent though it should not have retrospective effect. It will just reduce the sum of the rent hitherto.

In any event, if they are behaving in an anti social way then you can still rely on other breaches to seek a possession order although it is fair to say that nothing is as effective as 2 months in arrears.

In terms of whether it would lead to a reduction in rent or not, that is harder to say. Obviously it should not be a four bedroom house but it does have available space and that will be reflected in the rent.

Also, quite frankly, even if they do reduce the rent its quite unlikely to be reduced so badly that it will bring the tenant back into line with his rental payments.

You can also rely on grounds 10 and 11 though which cover any rent arrears and persistent late payment.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thankyou. That is helpful. I also wanted to know if I can get into trouble for renting out my attic. It would be obvious to housing benefit if they came round that I am turning a blInd eye.
Not on the facts you describe here. If you were letting it by room then that would amount to a house in multiple occupation and you would need licences for that.

If its just that you are letting the house and this acts as a bedroom then nobody is going to be interested in that really. Some people use their living room as a bedroom!

Obviously planning can invite you to take down any work that you have done but they won't do that.
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