Landlords – the bedroom tax has nothing to do with you so butt out!

Landlord – butt the hell out of the bedroom tax it has got absolutely bugger all to do with you!

Landlord – stop being an idiot and muddying the waters with talk of reclassification as that too has got bugger all to do with the bedroom tax.

Tenant, landlord, council, Uncle Tom Cobley and all – whenever you hear the phrase “it is up to the landlord” immediately dismiss it as it is a legal fiction and nonsense.

All – got your attention now?  Read on as to why all the above is obviously correct!

Firstly, the bedroom tax decision is just another Housing Benefit decision and because of that it is ONLY between the claimant (the tenant) and the decision-maker (the councils HB officer).  They are the ONLY two parties and so the bedroom tax has bugger all to do with the social landlord.  This simple fact social landlords cannot see as their woods don’t have any trees in them and that is what it is a simple unequivocal fact.

Even as social landlords traditionally help tenants with HB claims and HB forms and HB is paid direct to the social landlord, HB is between the tenant and the council and no body else!  Despite this it has always been the case that the tenant is responsible for HB not the landlord and that will stir some bells in landlord’s minds as they have (correctly) repeated that parrot fashion for years.

Why the hell social landlords are sticking their noses into something like the bedroom tax God only knows.  The reality is and I restate just in case you don’t get the reality – the bedroom tax is bugger all to do with the landlord, so butt out!

Secondly, local council HB departments are not only errant in law and fact by saying “it is up to the landlord” they are taking the p**s financially when they say as many now do that they will only entertain a request to review a property from a 3 bed to a 2 bed IF the landlord agrees to reclassify.  That is distinctly unlawful in my view and all councils are doing here is seeking for the landlord to go out and inspect properties – at the landlords cost – rather than the councils going to the cost of inspecting and making a decision, which is their role and what they have to do.

Social landlords either out of (a) personal vanity or (b) believing they do decide what a bedroom is or how many bedrooms there are is up to them; or (c) a mixture of both still continue to butt their noses into a legal relationship between two parties, tenant and council.  WHY?  It is bugger all to do with you!!

The guidance, the A4/2012 HB circular says at paragraph 12 that

“…it is up to the landlord to accurately describe the PROPERTY in line with the actual rent charged.”

Yet paragraph 20 says

“There is no obligation on landlords to reply to a request for information.”

How the hell can it be up to the landlord if the landlord does not have to supply anything to the council!!!!

Yet that is precisely what naive and frankly stupid landlords just don’t get or have not read.  The guidance is as plain as the nose on your face, that same nose that landlords need to remove from the bedroom tax which does NOT involve landlords.

There is no way a HB department of any council can enforce the landlord to provide any information.  And while on that point landlords did not provide ‘information’ they merely provided data: Data needs to be processed before it becomes information and all landlords provided was a line in a spreadsheet similar to the one below:

burydetailfromlandlord

All this said was a tenant name, and address and post code and how many bedrooms a property has (in the landlords view).  Yet the landlords view which I remind did not have to be given to the council in any case is just that – a view.  It is not fact and it is not the law as the Fife judgments and others clearly state – The landlords view is indicative but NOT determinative.

In simple terms it was and is up to the council to decide whether to accept the landlords view or not as they do have a choice AND more importantly the council is the ONLY decision maker.

Yet the council is still duty bound to assess each case on the facts of the matter and NOT on the view of a third party which the landlord is.  This is especially the case when the third party landlord has a vested interest in the matter – they charge a higher rent the higher the number of bedrooms there are.

I have highlighted the NUMBER of bedrooms for a very good reason.  Paragraph 12 of the A4/2012 bedroom tax guidance discusses what a bedroom is in terms of size – Yet Paragraph 20 discusses the NUMBER of bedrooms.  Aside from stating the landlord does not have to provide any information (sic) paragraph 20 goes on to say:

“In some circumstances it may be necessary (for the council) to contact a claimant directly for information about the NUMBER of bedrooms.”

Note well that paragraph 12 does not discuss the NUMBER of bedrooms at all. And paragraph 20 (which is guidance aimed at councils not at landlords whom I repeat have bugger all to do with the bedroom tax) goes on to say:

“And for new claims from 1 April 2013 we would normally expect claimants (ie tenants) to provide the information about property size on their claim form.”

Does that mean it is up to the tenant to decide on the NUMBER of bedrooms a property has then as that is how it reads literally and without ambiguity!  What it does mean is that it is definitely bugger all to do with the landlord!!

Yet that still doesn’t stop the majority of councils repeating the mantra “it is up to the landlord” which is patently false.  Here is an example of what Liverpool City Council say on the matter (and almost all councils are saying the same errant legal fiction):

Until you home is formally designated by the owner of the property as being one bedroom accommodation, the Local Authority will not alter either your eligible rent or the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to.

This is a council making a HB decision for which they are responsible in law to perform CONDITIONAL upon a third party (the landlord) agreeing.  That is distinctly unlawful.

To make matters worse the third party they are requiring to agree has a vested interest in NOT agreeing.

Furthermore the council is dictating that landlords ARE a part of the decision making process between the ONLY two parties a HB decision is between (the tenant and council) AND they are insisting the tenant jump through a hoop of getting the landlord to agree BEFORE the council performs its legal duty and assesses the HB claim, which again is also distinctly unlawful.

In short councils are taking the piss out of the tenant claimant acting unlawfully and dragging landlords into something which does NOT concern them.  And of course the bloody stupid landlord is going along with this charade! The same councils are NOT performing their lawful duty in their public service role of deciding HB cases as the agent of central government.  Yet they are a public authority and have to decide cases base on FACT and not on landlords views or landlords acceptance of the tenants view.  This conditionality local councils are seeking to adopt and are adopting they have no powers whatsoever to impose.

All of the above are huge grounds of appeal against the way your local council takes a bedroom tax decision.  These local councils are not content with the sham of the original bedroom tax decision-making process they are making it even more a sham.

Stage left enter the bloody stupid social landlords….a classic case locally to me is Magenta Living, formerly Wirral Partnership Homes and the former council housing landlord.  Magenta in its infinite wisdom has decided to go out and inspect properties and no doubt seeking to score some brownie PR points.  WHY are they going out to inspect it is bugger all to do with them and I repeat again the bedroom tax decision is between tenant and council ONLY.

So not only has Magenta incurred cost in this exercise it is a futile exercise in the first place!!  Of course Magenta is not the only landlord doing this and incurring cost that should be borne by the local council, who have an absolute obligation and public service duty to decide cases based on fact and not on opinion, many other similarly stupid social landlords are doing the same.

Councils are doing social landlords up like a kipper and the foolish landlords still continue to incur even more additional cost as if the bedroom tax risk wasn’t already enough!  And all on a wild goose chase! These same stupid landlords now claim they are following guidance from the DWP – Yes that would be the guidance given to councils and not to landlords!!

So if you are a landlord and you are butting in to the bedroom tax charade then butt your nose out trunky as it is absolutely bugger all to do with you.  And how much money are you spending getting involved in something that does not concern you and cannot concern you as a matter of FACT and a matter of LAW?  Just thought I would throw that in for good measure!

All landlords are doing is being (a) economically naive, (b) legally naive, (c) frankly giving themselves more cost and risk to financial loss, and (d)  making the situation worse for their ‘customers’ by butting their noses in.  Butt the hell out!

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10 thoughts on “Landlords – the bedroom tax has nothing to do with you so butt out!

  1. Interesting. Of course it is the council’s responsibility but let me test your resolve. I called upon a tenant on an issue nothing to do with bedroom tax, rent payments or benefits. In the course of the discussion they raised with me the issue that they had a bedroom tax letter from the council stating they had three rooms. Due to an adaptation for disability two of the bedrooms had been knocked into one. I took this back and got the association to inform the council that this house had only two bedrooms even though it was charged at a three bedroom rent due to the history of the property and its size. The council then redefined the property as a two bed and the bedroom tax was not charged against that house.

    Are you saying that I was wrong to do this?

  2. My local council changed the design of their review forms to ask for rooms in property – they then ‘reviewed’ all working age social sector tenants so the tenants unwittingly provided the data to the council in their review forms. Any appeal against rooms in the property the council refers the tenant to their review form.

    1. Leeds City Council (the landlord and the Housing Benefit Decision Maker) tried this tactic too, before the Bedroom Tax came in, but i was wise to it from reading about the benefit changes and so i ignored the form.
      Very underhand of the Council!

  3. Those that failed to return their review forms had their claims cancelled and they were not reinstated until they returned their review forms – so they harvested the bedroom data direct from the claimants as well as from the landlords..

  4. That’s terrible, Fen.
    Was there nowhere you could put down on the form about the use of the rooms; i.e. 1 bedroom and one home-office/study, instead of ‘2 bedrooms’?

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