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Housing allowance for under 18

Phil R
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Client is 17 and in f/t ed. Owns his own home and lives there with mum. Thinking of claiming UC under reg 8(1)(b). His property needs adaptations and they need to move out whilst the work is being done. If he is able to secure a tenancy, can he claim housing costs under UC?

Charles
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What is the purpose of the adaptions?

Phil R
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Most are related to his disability although there are some parts that just need updating.

Charles
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There are two requirements here: disregarding the value of his own home (unless the equity in the property is very low), and being treated as occupying the rented home.

His own home can be disregarded if “the person is carrying out essential repairs or alterations required to render the premises fit for occupation and these have been commenced within the past 6 months” (UC Regs Sched. 10(4)(c)).

He can be treated as occupying the rented home if “essential repairs [are] being carried out to the accommodation the claimant normally occupies as their home” (UC Regs Sched. 3(3)).

So, essential works are fine, but those related to his disability are more questionable. In particular, the wording of the capital disregard provision could be argued to imply repairs which are needed to render the premises fit for occupation generally, and not in relation to the specific claimant.

By the way, the 6 month time limit mentioned above can be extended where it is reasonable to do so (UC Regs r. 48(2)).

Edit to add: I am assuming that without the above rule he would be considered to “normally occupy” his own home. I presume that is the case here.

[ Edited: 7 Aug 2019 at 05:41 pm by Charles ]
Jon (CHDCA)
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Couple of side-notes on this:

- f/t students may have administrative difficulties getting a UC claim accepted, see: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/Forums/viewthread/11927

- under-18s in England/Wales can’t solely hold either property or a tenancy. Finding somewhere to rent as a minor isn’t usually going to work.  Is this in Scotland, or is he joint with mother?

Phil R
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Jon (CHDCA) - 07 August 2019 09:04 PM

Couple of side-notes on this:

- f/t students may have administrative difficulties getting a UC claim accepted, see: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/Forums/viewthread/11927

- under-18s in England/Wales can’t solely hold either property or a tenancy. Finding somewhere to rent as a minor isn’t usually going to work.  Is this in Scotland, or is he joint with mother?

His current property isn’t a problem with regards to capital. If he were to (somehow) manage to secure a tenancy in his name and live there with his mother, could he claim rent as part of his UC claim? I have advised him of the problems with UC for disabled students. The works would be regarded as essential as he wouldn’t be able to live there in it’s current condition with his disabilities.

The house would be in England. Where is the reg/guidance with regards to “under-18s in England/Wales can’t solely hold either property or a tenancy” Jon? If he had to jointly rent the property with his mother, could he claim rent for his share?

Elliot Kent
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This is our article on the legal position of minors who want to rent and the various ways in which it can be done (although I don’t know how much of this actually happens in practice outside of specialist providers):
https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_options/young_people_and_care_leavers/tenancies_for_minors

If you are able to get the UC claim made, and if you are able to get over the hurdle of being in full time education, then I don’t see why housing costs would be a problem.

Remember that 8(1)(b) gets him over the minimum age requirement, but he is only exempt from the “not in full time education” requirement if he actually has LCW and gets PIP. So the reality will probably be that he will have to wait a number of months for the WCA to be carried out before anything at all is paid - by which point he might well be back in the current home. And of course, if he is found fit for work, then no HCE at all.

I’m sure there is some backstory that we are missing but it seems a convoluted way of managing things when mum is still in the picture. Is there some reason why mum can’t just rent the property herself? Or is this some sort of attempt at income maximisation - because it seems quite risky if so?

ClairemHodgson
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i get the impression that this is a case arising out of a damages claim, whether accident or clin neg.

in which case, house will surely be in the name of your client’s deputy/lit friend, not that of your client?

and i wonder why the work wasn’t done before they moved in….

and claimed as part of the damages….

I might be entirely wrong, of course, but ....

Phil R
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Yes Claire, the property is disregarded. I’m not sure why the repairs haven’t already been completed. I have a feeling, they were living in the property before the accident and have used the settlement to purchase it since.

I’m struggling to find anything with regards to under-18’s not being able to have a tenancy in England though.

Jon (CHDCA)
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Phil R - 08 August 2019 11:11 AM

I’m struggling to find anything with regards to under-18’s not being able to have a tenancy in England though.

Tenancies and freeholds are legal interests in land. As per Elliot’s link, “However, under land law, a minor cannot hold a ‘legal’ interest in land and can only hold an ‘equitable’ interest.”, citing s.1(6) Law of Property Act 1925. It’s a complicated area, the Shelter page looks like a good place to start.

ClairemHodgson
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Phil R - 08 August 2019 11:11 AM

I’m struggling to find anything with regards to under-18’s not being able to have a tenancy in England though.

if you are not 18, you are not old enough to enter into contracts, whether for tenancy, freehold, or anything else (strictly, not even old enough to buy a scooter or whatever).

thinking about it, is the house REALLY in the youngster’s name?  surely will be in mothers with a trust/deputy

 

ClairemHodgson
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of course, the other important point to bear in mind - will he, in fact, be able to find a rental property that would suit for his disabilities?  since if he can’t, your question is surely academic

he wont qualify for social housing as he has somewhere to live, he’s not homeless etc….

Phil R
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Thanks to everyone for the helpful advice. I missed Elliot’s link to the Shelter website initially. I’ll have good read through that.

Elliot Kent
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ClairemHodgson - 08 August 2019 11:49 AM

if you are not 18, you are not old enough to enter into contracts, whether for tenancy, freehold, or anything else (strictly, not even old enough to buy a scooter or whatever).

One of those occasional things I remember from Uni is the “fancy waistcoats” case from over 100 years ago. The minor students were not bound by their contracts to purchase these luxuries, but they would have been bound by contracts for necessities such as food and drink. A home is a necessity by most standards and therefore a contract for a home is potentially binding against a minor (subject to finding a way around the LPA barrier to a minor holding a legal as against equitable interest in land).

Phil R
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Another question. A minor is renting a house via a court appointed deputy, and lives there with his parents. The contract is in the child’s name via the deputy. The parents have tried to claim housing as part of their UC claim but refused as they have no liability. Would some kind of contract between the deputy and the parents be sufficient for UC or would the tenancy have to be transferred to the parents?