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Thread: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Advice?

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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Advice?

    Hi all,

    I applied for rehousing due to our Son having a rare genetic condition and the flat we are in prevents us from providing the care he needs, special needs bed and equipment etc.

    We have been on the medical priority list for a year now and the Council are now saying that I owe them money from 11 years ago and until it's paid they do not have to rehouse us.

    The alleged debt is an over payment of Housing Benefit from 11 years ago when I lived alone. They did write to me 11 years ago and say that I owed £860 due to an over payment. I wrote back and questioned it. This is the last I heard from them until now , 11 years later.

    I have told them that I do not owe the debt due to the fact I was not working at the time. They have asked for bank statements to prove I wasn't working but my Bank have said they cannot provide me with statements from 11 years ago as they have no legal obligation to hold information for more than 6 years.

    I have told them that the debt is Statute Barred due to the Limitations Act because it's over 6 years old.

    The Council informed me that the debt had previously been written off because they could not locate me. However, I have lived in the same Town for the past 11 years renting 3 different flats in my name and paying Council Tax on them. Because I applied to be rehoused they have 'resurrected' the debt.

    I have told them that under paragraph 4.373 under 'Write offs' section of the 'Housing Benefit over payments guide' they cannot resurrect the debt if I have been informed of the write off, which I recently have been informed of the write off. However, they seem to think that they have to notify me at the time of the write off, not after. It does not state this in the guidelines.

    This has been going on for 3 months now. It has been myself who has done all the running, phone calls, emails asking for information etc. I have had messages I've left ignored, Statements I've made which required a response ignored. I have had managers of departments promise to email me by a certain date and then not bother to do so. The Council have even backdated a letter which gave me 10 days to reply to them. I believe it was backdated due to the post mark on the envelope, 14 days after the date of the letter. This is what I've had deal with in trying to resolve this with the Council.

    I then decided to put in a complaint with the Council. They did not acknowledge the acceptance of my complaint nor did they keep me informed during this process.

    I then received an email from them apologising for the way everything had been handled and they admitted that it was not acceptable.

    Every email I have received from them contains false and misleading statements. They seem to have an ability to twist the truth and make it sound favourable to themselves.

    I emailed them stating that what they are doing is maladministration and I would be complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman if this was not resolved.

    The last email I received from them, again, contained false and misleading statements regarding the matter but, at the end of the email they stated that they would be prepared to write off 50% of the debt if I acknowledge it and make an arrangement to pay it.

    I am now prepared to approach the Local Government Ombudsman and put in a complaint of maladministration. However, this can apparently take up to 6 months! As I said earlier, we are desperate to be rehoused due to my Sons needs.

    Can anyone offer any further advice regarding this?

    I have also used section 17 of the 'Children Act 1989', but they just don't listen...

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as I feel I have tried everything...

    Many thanks,

    James.
    Last edited by James1975; 9th October 2016 at 17:18:PM. Reason: displayed wrong

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    :bump:ing for @Crazy council and @Snoopy1948 xx
    Debt is like any other trap, easy enough to get into, but hard enough to get out of.

    It doesn't matter where your journey begins, so long as you begin it...

    recte agens confido

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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    Have you tried discussing this with social services or your social worker?
    I am not sure how much clout they have re housing matters, but they should be involved if it is a situation that is affecting your disabled son.
    I understand you may not want to discuss personal finance matters with them but they may be able to give the council the shove they need regarding the issues with your present accommodation.
    You can then get on with your complaint or payment arrangement.


    ​​​​

    https://www.carersuk.org/

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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    Hello James, welcome to LB,

    Before the " experts" on CT matters come to help a couple of points.
    Has all the "negotiation" been via e-mail?
    Was it just sent to the CT department?

    A suggestion.

    A written Formal Complaint to the CEO of the Local Authority personally addressed and marked " Private & Confidential by RM signed for post.

    Layout what the situation is, what has taken place so far and what you want the council to do about it.

    The Formal Complaint this way to the person with the actual power to make things happen!

    nem
    The Advice I Give and Draft Letters Provided Are Drawn From Personal Experience and Career Training And Are Given Freely And Without Liability.
    Please make your own decisions with care and if necessary seek qualified legal advice.
    I will not advise by Private Message. If Specific Advice is Needed please Tag me in your post by typing @Nemesis45 . If you receive messages from anyone offering advice for a fee please report it to the site team. Animo et Fide.





  5. #5
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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    Hi As nemesis45 and enaid says

    Complain, but i would suggest, writing and an email, to the head of finance ( section 151 officer ) for your council. Put all the point to him, that will get it sorted.
    crazy council ( as in local council,NELC ) as a member of the public, i don't get mad, i get even

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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    Quote Originally Posted by enaid View Post
    Have you tried discussing this with social services or your social worker?
    I am not sure how much clout they have re housing matters, but they should be involved if it is a situation that is affecting your disabled son.
    I agree with that.

    This is a housing issue with possible Disability Discrimination issues if they are refusing to provide your son with the accommodation he needs (and they may be legally obliged to provide) based on an as yet unproven Housing Benefit overpayment from eleven years ago. He should not be punished for any perceived 'debt' owed to the Local Authority by a parent.

    This kind of jobsworthiness makes my blood boil

    Call Shelter's free Legal Helpline and see what they can do to help you 0808 800 4444.

    Then as enaid says tackle the HB overpayment issue.

    Di
    I am a Litigation Executive at Joanna Connolly Solicitors a firm which specializes in consumer credit.

    This forumís site rules donít allow me to give advice by PM but if you need to contact me please email di@joannaconnollysolicitors.co.uk . Our initial advice is always free.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any advice I provide is without liability. If you are unsure please seek formal legal guidance or contact your local citizens advice bureau at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    Quote Originally Posted by James1975 View Post
    The Council informed me that the debt had previously been written off because they could not locate me. However, I have lived in the same Town for the past 11 years renting 3 different flats in my name and paying Council Tax on them. Because I applied to be rehoused they have 'resurrected' the debt.

    I have told them that under paragraph 4.373 under 'Write offs' section of the 'Housing Benefit over payments guide' they cannot resurrect the debt if I have been informed of the write off, which I recently have been informed of the write off. However, they seem to think that they have to notify me at the time of the write off, not after. It does not state this in the guidelines.
    Have you got any evidence to prove that you were informed the HB overpayment was written off? Hopefully it was in writing.

    I share your cynicism that this 'debt' has only been resurrected to wriggled out of their duty to rehouse you and your disabled son.

    Di
    I am a Litigation Executive at Joanna Connolly Solicitors a firm which specializes in consumer credit.

    This forumís site rules donít allow me to give advice by PM but if you need to contact me please email di@joannaconnollysolicitors.co.uk . Our initial advice is always free.

    Any posts I make on LegalBeagles are for information and discussion purposes only and shouldn't be seen as legal advice. Any advice I provide is without liability. If you are unsure please seek formal legal guidance or contact your local citizens advice bureau at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Council refuse to rehouse us due to a non recoverable debt from 11 years ago. Adv

    having worked for a local authority for many years, I have seen people being rehoused in social housing often breaking every rule in the book and even though I questioned such movements, I was never given the grace of a reply. Sad to say, housing officers and those that actively administer who gets what in the housing department ( which everyone knows is at an absolute premium ) do let personal opinions and emotional responses get in the way which is not what the public expect or know about.

    James 1975 you are obviously very articulate in what you say and do but the bottom line is that your special needs son requires suitable housing as a priority and I think the housing benefit debt should not interfere with that. It would be interesting to know what your son's condition is and in what way he needs to more specific accommodation as that could be of the utmost importance in taking this forward. I think your arguments with the council with regards the debt need to be put to one side and perhaps the council could be persuaded to act in a more sympathetic and listening capacity.

    Please remember suitable accommodation is like gold dust so there are no guarantees and from my own experience I have seen the level of heartache that this can bring to the point where 'unsuitable' accommodation is the only thing that is ever available. I was talking to a social worker this very week ( she is a neighbour in my apartment block ) and she told me that she has very little voice in housing matters, if any.

    I do believe it's very wrong to use a historic debt to stall your application to move and yes, they can resurrect any public money debt that has been written off and ask you to repay it. Are you currently in receipt of any housing benefit? IF so, automatic repayment can come from that at an agreed amount.

    I agree with what others have said here, you should be writing to the council's CEO for his specific attention. I would also be addressing your local councillors by using the website writetothem.com where you only need your postcode to be directed to the right people. Personally I would refrain from quoting laws or the rights or wrongs of your debt argument in your correspondence but use your approach as a polite but nevertheless passionate appeal for help with your child's needs. But as I said, it is hard to advise unless your need is genuine and very necessary. Only you can prove that.

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