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UC Housing Costs for 16 year old school boy tenant whose guardian sister lives with him

HFCAB
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The main tenant died in March 2019 and her 15 year old son succeeded to the council tenancy, on condition that his older half-sister became his guardian. She lives with him in the 2 bed flat, works full time and currently pays full rent and Council Tax. Her salary is too high to qualify for UC or CTS.

The father of the boy lives elsewhere and is unable to look after him, as he himself is chronically ill.  He claims Child Benefit for the boy but no CTC or UC Child Element. Both the father and the half-sister support the boy financially.

The school boy tenant turned 16 this week.  The council had suggested to his sister that he might be able to claim UC Housing Costs (with a NDD) but UC has said that the 16 year old is not eligible as his sister is acting as his parent.

Has anyone come across a similar situation and a precedent for paying a school boy UC Housing Costs ? Any suggestions would be gratefully received as the sister says she is not prepared to pay full rent for the next 2 years until her brother reaches his 18th birthday.

HB Anorak
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I think they are probably right.  A 16 year old without parental support can claim UC and Reg 8(4) defines a parent as including any person acting in the place of a parent.  The sister should surely be getting financial support from Children’s Services - I am guessing the UC suggestion has come from them as a way to reduce the cost to the Council?

Daphne
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Only a small point but shouldn’t the sister be getting the child benefit if she is the guardian?

And I’m sure you’ve thought of this but is she outside UC taking into account work allowances as a parent and child element?

Brian Fletcher
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Please forgive me for producing probably more questions than answers on this, but I spotted this, and without any research on the matter at all, it seemed that there is a an unaddressed issue which seems to loom large.

It is a matter of law that anyone under the age of 18 lacks the capacity to enter into a contract, and on that point then, they couldn’t hold a legal estate in land in any capacity. The Guardian then in this case would seem to me to be the person with capacity who would be the legal holder of the estate (tenancy) holding in trust for the minor, and would be acting as a trustee rather than a parent.

HB Anorak
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She can be both can’t she?

As regards the tenancy, she holds that on trust for her younger sibling.  As trustee she is personally liable for the rent but is entitled to expect reimbursement from the beneficiary.  In these cases traditionally HB has been awarded to the younger sibling on the (maybe slightly iffy) basis that reimbursing the trustee is a liability which attracts HB.  Unfortunately UC has restrictions on claims by young people: you must be at least 16 and in most cases 18, which brings us to parents …

Apart from than holding the tenancy on trust, it appears that the older sibling is otherwise acting as a parent by providing for her sister’s material needs and generally taking care of her - that is what probably triggers Reg 8(4) and prevents the younger sibling from claiming as a 16 year old.

Brian Fletcher
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HB Anorak - 09 January 2020 04:31 PM

She can be both can’t she?

As regards the tenancy, she holds that on trust for her younger sibling.  As trustee she is personally liable for the rent but is entitled to expect reimbursement from the beneficiary.  In these cases traditionally HB has been awarded to the younger sibling on the (maybe slightly iffy) basis that reimbursing the trustee is a liability which attracts HB.  Unfortunately UC has restrictions on claims by young people: you must be at least 16 and in most cases 18, which brings us to parents …

Apart from than holding the tenancy on trust, it appears that the older sibling is otherwise acting as a parent by providing for her sister’s material needs and generally taking care of her - that is what probably triggers Reg 8(4) and prevents the younger sibling from claiming as a 16 year old.

Yes, I think you are probably right on the older sibling being both.