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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

Treatment of land owned when assessing for UC

Carlo
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Benefits advice service - Eastlight Community Homes, Braintree

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Hi all
Apologies if this is a daft question.
We’ve had a tenant sign up to a property. She currently lives in a camper van on a plot of land (Land which she owns).
She receives ESAcont only.
Because of health reasons she was successful in a housing application.

I’ve not had this before, so I’m looking for reassurance/advice about how the land is treated if she were to make a UC claim with HC’s.
All I have managed to find is CPAG stating it is capital - which I get.

Because there is no current value attached to the land, I cant see anything but a refusal in a claim.

Is it a simple case of an independent survey/valuation being done to put a value on it, which is then passed to DWP for acceptance? Or would DWP insist on their own valuation?

Any thoughts or ideas would be gratefully received

CHAC Adviser
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Caseworker - CHAC, Middlesbrough

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My experience with capital that doesn’t have a fixed value (like savings in a bank account) is that the DWP will take the claimants word for it unless it’s obviously wrong or suspicious. If the claimant says a three bed semi is worth £180,000 they’ll just take it. If you try and claim it’s £15,500 they’re going to raise questions. That’s basically how an unusually helpful JSA decision maker explained their process to me anyway!

Usually if they have reason to question the value they then send instructions to the Valuation Office for them to get a value but the quality of that valuation is often poor in my experience and it’s possible to blow holes in it very easily (I had a Tribunal judge say words to the effect of “the valuation isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”) should that be required.

I suppose if you claim UC and disclose that there is land but you have no idea what it might be worth they’ll skip straight to get the Valuation Office in to value it. But land (as opposed to a house) is not something I’ve had to deal with before!

Carlo
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Benefits advice service - Eastlight Community Homes, Braintree

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Thanks for that. I’ve dealt with property values before and agree that it is a strange process.
But not having dealt with just the land ownership aspect, I’m struggling to advise.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Maybe good start point is how much did she pay for the piece of land? How long has passed since then?

Carlo
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Benefits advice service - Eastlight Community Homes, Braintree

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Thanks Paul. We’re trying to do that now. It appears to have been a very long time, and no one has any idea at the moment

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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If she intends to sell it and puts it up for sale can it then be disregarded anyway in which case the value is irrelevant?

Elliot Kent
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Ianb - 26 June 2020 04:58 PM

If she intends to sell it and puts it up for sale can it then be disregarded anyway in which case the value is irrelevant?

The disregard applies to “premises” which you are trying to sell. R(IS)4/97 is authority that empty land could be considered “premises” in the context of the equivalent IS disregard, so yes that would seem to be right.

Obviously if she is going to put it up for sale, she is still going to need an idea of what it might be worth.

Honestly, I don’t think it should be too difficult to figure out in very broad terms the sort of value the land might have. Empty land is a lot more homogeneous that homes are. I am sure that if you have an idea of (1) where it is (2) how much there is and (3) what its suitable for, then you can spend 15 minutes on google and get a notion of whether it is likely to be worth closer to £2,000 or £20,000 which is probably sufficient for the purposes of framing the issue on her claim.

 

Carlo
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Benefits advice service - Eastlight Community Homes, Braintree

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Thank you guys. It’s all very helpful