After attending RLA training, member Ms A learnt about ‘passporting’ and challenged her council over her housing benefit tenant arrears from 2009. She won back nearly six months of arrears, several years later, in 2014, thanks largely to RLA training and benefit expert, Bill Irvine.
An RLA member – Ms A – attended one of the RLA’s training courses which Bill Irvine runs; specifically Local housing Allowance (LHA) training. Up until this point Ms A was resigned to losing several months of rent and her property being associated with drugs and other anti-social behaviours.
Bill’s advice, lifted from his training courses has helped Ms A win back £9,000. Proving that training and professional advice really can pay off.
The take home message is that Bill managed to help Ms A recover her arrears from March-June 2009 when the problematic tenant was in her property. Typically, housing benefits can only be backdated for six months from the date of the claim. If Ms A hadn’t attended Bill Irvine’s training, and heard about ‘passorting hook’, a totally different tactic, she may still be missing several months of rent from years ago.
The tenant in question was a homeless, pregnant woman who had been sleeping rough and needed accommodation immediately. Ms A responded and took the tenant into her property. What wasn’t clear initially was that the tenant had drug and alcohol abuse issues.
Ms A took the tenant on immediately after the tenancy agreement had been signed, even with a clause that gave Ms A 24 hours to prepare the property. There was no furnishing within the property but as it was an emergency response the tenant moved in regardless.
This is, unfortunately, where Ms A’s troubles began.
After it became clear that the tenant was not paying her rent Ms A went to the property to discover that tenant had been in hospital suffering epileptic fits – aggravated by drugs and alcohol – and had given birth. Sadly the child was taken away and the tenant eventually returned to the flat.
It then came to light that the tenant had not finished filling in paperwork to receive benefits so neither tenant nor landlord were receiving payments. Ms A went into arrears simply because the tenant hadn’t finished filling out the paperwork.
The tenant then began to sell drugs out of the property. The tenant was given an ASBO and Ms A was finally able to evict the tenant from the property.
Ms A attended one of the RLA’s LHA courses, which Bill runs, found out about ‘passporting’ and was able to challenge the council successfully to get her missed payments.
As a result Ms A contacted her local council to outline her concerns and arrears. The council conducted a re-examination of the tenant’s benefit claims for Ms A’s property and confirmed benefits should be paid to the tenant and therefore credited Ms A for missing rent.
Ms A relayed to RLA campaigns that had it not been for Bill’s advice she would still be missing out on six months and thousands of pounds of rent.