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  • LHA/Universal Credit

    LHA family Mum + 4 kids renting 2 bed house?

    I've been asked if I would consider a single mum with four children on housing benefit as a tenant.

    The property in question is a two bedroomed terrace and the family obviously requires three bedrooms,  but she is proposing to use the dining room as a third bedroom. This would still leave a separate living room, kitchen and downstairs cloakroom.

    If the property was defined as a three bedroomed house her housing benefit entitlement would cover the rent whereas it would not as a two bedroomed house.

    I'm not sure about the ethics of this.  I don't want to be seen as a slum landlord providing overcrowded homes to desperate families at the state's expense. Any thoughts?

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    Alison, this is standard procedure in student houses.

    I was approached by two couples, one with a small child to rent a 2 bed flat last year and I decided it wouldn't work.

    Your situation could work, though you'd have to be prepared for a lot of wear and tear.

    What ages are the children?



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    I'm not sure. Primary school age and younger I think. That's a good point about wear and tear,

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    You are incorrect

    It doesn't matter whether it is a 1 bed property

    It is the prevailing domestic circumstances that indicates the level of HB achievable.

    It has nothing to do with ethics.

    If a HB family wants to live in a smaller property but pays the rate that HB allows then that is their choice

    This way HB families can afford to stay in an area if that is what they choose.

    Obviously it depends on child ages and gender.

    LHA is based on the domestic status that qualifies for a certain amount of LHA.

    So providing you don't mind the property being used a different way then there is no issue

    If the family is entitled to the 3 bed rate then that is what they will receive irrespective of you only having 2 official bedrooms.

    So you charge the 3 bed rate as rent and allow them to use the living room as a bedroom

    Job done.

    Yes there will be additional wear and tear but the 3 bed LHA rate will more than compensate!!

     The arch exponent of this particular strategy is JC though I am not sure with the advent of UC whether this strategy is still possible.

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    I don’t see any particular issue with taking the dining room and turning it into a bedroom.

    However, you don’t give the ages and gender of the children. Sharing bedrooms is not permissible if the children are opposite sex and over the age of 10. That is overcrowding and a criminal offence.

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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

    It's not a criminal offence. Children of different gender sharing was never a problem. It was just awarded more points when being calculated for eligibility for a council house years ago.

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    I'm afraid you are simply wrong!

    David is correct.

    It has nothing to do with council points.

    It may have done in the past; but not now.

    You try putting a male and female child over 10 together and see what happens.

    I suggest you approach the council to ascertain their requirements.

    They will be able to keep you the right side of the law!!

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    The LHA rate /  entitlement  goes with the person not the property

    LHA is calculated on the basis of the number of bedrooms that you are assessed as needing.

    You are allowed one bedroom for:

    • every adult couple (including civil partners)
    • every adult aged 16 or over (including lodgers or boarders)
    • any two children of the same sex under age 16
    • any two children regardless of their sex under age 10
    • any other child

    So if the family fit the criteria for  a 3 bed you will get that  rate

    The dining room in most cases would be classed as suitable as a bedroom

    Check with social services if you are worried about overcrowding or mixing sexes

    They see it through a different lense than just the clinical  LHA rate

    Each families dynamics are different

    For instance if one child is a step child different rules apply re sharing

    There are other rules which can apply

    For instance is one child is an epileptic or diagnosed ADHD they may be entitled to their own bedroom

    I have a few of these

    I have often taken families with a higher rate entitlement than the number of actual bedrooms

    Some refer to it as an enhanced LHA strategy.

    A mother and new born baby for instance attracts the 2 bed rate even if they live in  a studio flat

    They can live quite happily like  that for maybe the 1st year .

    Some will see it as a non ethical practice but often they dont understand the underlying circumstances

    If I put a mum and newborn in a studio flat taking them away from a friends sofa in their living room that is a better option for them

    Its also likely to be better than the streets , a woman`s refuge , the home of a violent  partner etc etc

    There are  a dozen examples I could give where offering a mum and four kids a 2 bed house is a positive  act of kindness towards them

    That`s not a slum landlord that`s a compassionate landlord

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    Many thanks all of you for your very helpful responses.

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    Hi Alison

    Most of the issues have been addressed by earlier posters.

    Under HB/LHA the single parent would be eligible for, at least, the 3 bedroom rate. However, having 4 children, she'll almost certainly have a deduction to this rate, due to the imposition of the Benefits Cap. How much of a cap will depend on the level of her eligible rent (3 bed rate for area) combined with any other state benefits she receives. Details of the BC operates and access to a BC calculator can be found in this link.

    Bill Irvine

    UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd

    www,ucadvice.co.uk

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    Plus of course OBC outside London was cut by £6000 pa in Nov 2016 (£3000 pa cut in London)

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