Housing benefit - sharing with a friend...

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Hi everyone - I wonder if anyone has any experience or knowledge of this scenario. I am a full time live in carer for a friend with severe mental impairment and have been in this position since October 2015. 

My friend owns the house outright and I have been living here on a no rent basis since I moved in. I am on income related esa and carers  allowance, have no savings and don’t work. I also get council tax benefit. I have taken up so much of my friend’s space as we try to give each other as much personal space as possible - so he’s changed his lounge into a bed sit for himself. It got us thinking that maybe he should start charging me rent under the rent a room scheme so we can afford to buy him a big shed in the garden for some of his belongings. Anyway, we were woundering if this would mean we are ‘taking advantage of the benefits scheme’ and we would therefore be refused..... Any ideas anyone....? Thanks

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23 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi,

    This is potentially very complicated. Doing this will depend on what means tested benefits your friend claims because it will be counted as income for these. Being allowed to do this will also depend on the mortgage they have and whether or not their insurance provider will allow it. 

    If you'll be wanting to claim housing benefit to pay this rent then that's also another matter to think about because this can also be extremely complicated.

    There's far too many things to consider here for any benefits forum to even start to help, therefore your friend and yourself need to get advice from your local CAB. You will need to ring them and make an appointee to attend one of their centres and give them all your information. From then they will be able to help and advise you further. Good luck and I hope you get the advice you're looking for.

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    • Posted

      That should read insurance provider and not mortgage lender as well. It should also read make an appointment and not make an appointee. Sorry can't edit posts, annoyingly. 

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    • Posted

      Thank you Denise - we thought it might be complicated! He owns the house outright and is on non-means tested benefits. It’s the whole idea of suddenly charging me rent after three years of not doing so that we fear they may take offence at, but will see what CAB have to say. Thank you as always for your help.
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    • Posted

      No problem. Yes, that's my thoughts too as regards to the rent and claiming housing benefit. Of course claiming housing benefit you will need a tenancy agreement and that's just to start with. He will need to contact his insurance provider for the house insurance too because some insurance companies won't allow this.

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    • Posted

      Hi you will also probably be asked lots of questions regarding cohabitation, if you moved in as his paid carer then it will probably be fine but if you moved in as a friend then all of a sudden deciding he's going to charge you rent will possibly negate your position as a live in carer.

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    • Posted

      Yes, I can see all this might be an issue. Also, he is a ‘non-dependent’ and that seems to have some effect on their decision too. I just feel bad in having taken up so much of his space and it’s his house! I’ll see if I can do an online chat with CAB tomorrow and report back.
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    • Posted

      Having re-read your first post I see he's a friend. I'm not sure why being a non dependant will cause problems. More to the point that not having to pay rent since you've lived there because you're his live in carer to suddenly paying rent can and will most likely cause issues. 

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    • Posted

      Ok but I can see it being a no go, not that he charges you rent but the fact your hoping to claim HB, as a live in carer how many hours do you do and obviously if it's a substantial amount then because your earnings will possibly take you over the threshold, I wish you luck though

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    • Posted

      I agree - except that there are extenuating circumstances. He is a highly traumatised person and claiming what he is entitled to has always been a non issue for him. He has recently claimed back 6 years worth of council tax that should have been disregarded because neither he nor I knew about disregards for serious mental impairment (I just happened to come across it on a moneysavingexpert website from years ago!) His last three years have been horrendous due to flashbacks and other problems from years of extreme abuse and I also have been too overwhelmed with his care to think too much of benefits. His former psychotherapist will vouch for all this if I put in a claim for hb and it is turned down. But I’ll probably go in pre-armed....
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    • Posted

      So your saying that people with MH problems can claim exception from paying CT??? Would be good if your right because it would mean I could claim it back, can you possibly send a link to where you saw this please.

      Thanks

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    • Posted

      No, that's not what Gillian is saying. Only those that are severely mentally impaired can claim this and a form needs to be filled in by a GP to be eligible. 

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    • Posted

      This is taken from a link to SMI for the severely mentally impaired. 

      Both of the following must apply for someone to qualify for a severe mental impairment (SMI) council tax discount:

      They've been medically certified as being severely mentally impaired. For example, this may be the case if they have dementia, Parkinson's, severe learning difficulties or have had a stroke. It will depend on each individual’s case though and simply having been diagnosed doesn’t automatically mean they qualify -  a doctor must also certify they are severely mentally impaired. 

      They're eligible for (but NOT necessarily actually receiving) at least one of the following benefits:

      Incapacity benefit

      Attendance allowance

      Severe disablement allowance

      Disability living allowance (higher or middle-rate care component)

      Increase in disablement pension (due to constant attendance being needed)

      Unemployability supplement or allowance

      Constant attendance allowance

      Income support (which includes a disability premium)

      Personal independence payment (standard or enhanced daily living component)

      Armed forces independence payment

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    • Posted

      I understand what you're saying but you've been living with him as his live in carer rent free and now you say you want to claim HB because you feel you're taking up his space? Is there any reason why he hasn't been charging you rent since you've lived there?

      You say he doesn't claim any means tested benefits is this because he has too much savings/capital? 

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    • Posted

      Yes, that’s right. It’s only really just occurred to us as I was in the council offices last week about my council tax benefit and they asked if I wanted to claim hb. I said ‘no, I wasn’t paying rent’ and the woman I spoke to was surprised. It’s truly because we’ve both been so overwhelmed with my friend’s devastating mental health problems. The woman thought it was very generous of him - and I agree - as I’m taking up his space and he’s frequently frustrated by his lack of it... He’s not on means tested benefits because he has worked in the past. No savings. He has been disregarded under the severe mental impairment rules for CT and is on the highest rates of PIP. And incapacity benefit (I think). 
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    • Posted

      Yes, many, many hours. Many more than the proscribed 35 per week! I am paid carer’s allowance. If he was institutionalised (as he has been in the past - once for a whole year in a psychiatric unit) it would cost the state unknown amounts of money!
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    • Posted

      Incapacity benefit no longer exists and hasn't done since 2014 and there's been no new claims for this benefit since 2011. 2014 was the last year that claimants were transferred to ESA. He's most definitely claiming Contribution based ESA because all those that transferred across were placed on Contribution based regardless of their circumstances. CB isn't means tested but because he doesn't have a partner, or any savings/capital then there's a very high chance that he's claiming an Income related top up on his ESA, which will be means tested. You need to ask him to find out exactly which ESA he's claiming. Contribution based or Contribution based with an income related top up. 

      Either way, this is a very complicated issue and further advice is most definitely needed.

      Also, one thing to think about and check for yourself here. If this housing benefit claim is possible and you're area is a full Universal credit area then you won't be able to claim housing benefit. It will have to be UC, if you have to claim this because of housing benefit then your ESA will transfer across to UC and become 1 monthly payment. Check your area by googling UC postcode checker and put your postcode into that link. It will tell you what's in your area. 

       

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    • Posted

      Actually if you're unsure how much ESA he claims then Contribution based is £110.75 per week but as he transferred from Incapacity benefit then it may be a couple of pounds more than this because of a transitional payment protection he could be claiming.  Is this the amount he claims per week? or is he claiming more than this? 

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    • Posted

      Because he couldn’t work prior to 31st Jan 2011 he’s still on IB I think. I’ll have to check this tomorrow. I should know really having filled out so many benefit  forms for him over the years! It’s around £110 with an age related top up of around £6.50.

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    • Posted

      Like I said IB or incapacity benefit no longer exists and all those that were claiming have already transferred to ESA. The extra he claims will be a transitional protection. I have no idea what you mean by an age related top up. He must be working age otherwise he would be claiming a pension, rather than a working age benefit. IB was a working age benefit just like ESA is. 

      If he doesn't have a partner and you're a friend then he should be claiming an income related top up on his ESA. This will give him an extra £16.40 per week, if he doesn't already claim it. 

      There's one thing that they may question here, if you put in a claim for housing benefit.. or universal credit, if that is what's in your area... and that's whether you're living as a couple or not. They may ask you to prove that this isn't the case.  As you have been living there and paying no rent and suddenly you decide you need to claim a benefit to pay rent. On the other hand there maybe no questions asked regarding this. I'm only trying to warn you as to what could happen and the advice you should get.

      Take care and good luck.  

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    • Posted

      Denise is right and if your being paid minimum wage which is £7.04 I think so with 35 hours that's £274 a week, you will have to pay PAYE from that and I'm sorry but I don't think you will qualify for HB as your basically like a nanny and would surely come under the same rules, you can be a lodger but your not your a live in carer and on top of that how would you claim as you don't pay bills so that's another problem trying to claim the hardest benefit in my opinion.

      I could be wrong though as Denise will probably tell me I am

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    • Posted

      Gillian is a carer for her friend that she lives with and claims carers allowance for looking after him for at least 35 hours per week but she doesn't get paid an hourly wage for doing this. I think the word "live in carer" is probably the wrong word to use here. She claims ESA too and wouldn't be allowed to earn that £274 per week for being the "live in carer" 

      This whole case is extremely complicated and that's why I advised to speak to CAB. Whether she will be able to claim housing benefit in this case, is a different matter entirely. 

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