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friends husband has tragically died leaving her no income - what can she do about housing

(23 Posts)
worriedsick100 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:45:57

Hi looking some quick advice. A friend's husband has tragically died unexpectedly. She is obviously grieving but also in a financial mess as though he look like he was in a well-paid job he was actually living hand to mouth month-to-month. She has literally no money to live on. She has been in negotiations with her landlady as she now has no money to pay rent. The landlady has said that she will serve her with an eviction letter within the fortnight. She is going to the job centre tomorrow to see if she can get any help.

Am I correct in thinking that she should she should not come to any agreement to move out the property? In the back of my mind I know something about not making oneself intentionally homeless and though obviously morally she should move out of the property I am thinking that she may have to stay put and wait til she is literally evicted through a court process or there may be no obligation to rehouse her. She has several young children and is worried sick and obviously grieving.

Any thoughts gratefully received. Many thanks.

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Sun 01-Dec-13 23:49:31

Not sure about the moving out, but she may well be entitled to bereavement benefits. The job centre will be able to help with the financial stuff and they move quite fast and back date money owed. If she is under 52 suggest she googles The WAY Foundation. It's a group for people under that age who have been bereaved.

lilyaldrin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:51:03

She needs to stay put in her house - the council will rehouse her and her children if she gets evicted (though it might be in a hostel).

She should be entitled to benefits though - income support if her children are under school age, housing benefit and council tax benefit, maybe widowed parents allowance too, and presumably she gets child benefit and tax credits for them already?

SweetPeaAndPumpkin Sun 01-Dec-13 23:53:45

She can make a claim for Housing Benefit (and ask for it to be backdated to the date her DH died), which will pay something.

She can ask the Jobcentre for a crisis loan, and also apply for bereavement benefit.

I don't know the rules about being intentionally homeless - sorry. She does need to look for a property she can afford under the Housing Benefit rules though. That varies from area to area. She will be entitled to one room for herself, one room for two children of the same sex, or one room for two children under 10, up to a maximum of 4 rooms.

If you want to PM me with the sex and ages of the children, and your friend's post code, and I'll work it out for you.

HarrietVaneAgain Sun 01-Dec-13 23:55:06

I don't know about housing but if the DH was in a job he may have had death in service benefit as part of a pension package. Worth looking into. Also I think there might be a window/ers support benefit payment but don't know what the details of this are but a quick google found this www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/benefits_e/benefits_bereavement_ew/benefits_and_bereavement.htm. Hope someone with more knowledge will be along soon.

worriedsick100 Sun 01-Dec-13 23:58:03

I am really not sure. yes she is very young - late 20s. does she have to stay until she is literally evicted? By doing this is she not just racking up a huge bill that the landlady could pursue her with in small claims court?

how can you work out if you will end up in a hostel or whether you get money to pay for rent in small, appropriately sized flat? What does this decision rest on?

Thank you.

AnUnearthlyChild Sun 01-Dec-13 23:58:09

I came on to mention death in service benefit.

Were there no insurance policies squirrelled away?

Poor woman.

www.shelter.org.uk are brilliant on housing issues and will be able to give your friend sound advice.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:02:05

She can look up the Local Housing Allowance for her area - this tells you how much rent housing benefit will cover. There is a calculator here https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/BedRoomCalculator.aspx

For example, if she lives in Reading and has 2 boys and 2 girls under 10, she will be entitled to a 3 bedroom property up to £211.15 a week rent.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:03:13

If she leaves her current home before she is evicted then she might find the council have no obligation to find her alternative housing. If she finds a private rent herself though she can claim housing benefit for it.

worriedsick100 Mon 02-Dec-13 00:09:44

can she do this find a new private rent even while in existing house she is waiting to get evicted from? Thanks

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:11:06

Yes, she can find a new house and apply for housing benefit now. Will housing benefit not cover her current rent though?

She needs to apply for housing benefit tomorrow - if she isn't in a state to do this then please, someone else fill the forms in for her and get her to sign them. Ask for it to be backdated to the last date she paid the rent. It might not cover all of her rent but it will go some way towards it. She also needs to apply for all other benefits she might be entitled to at the same time. The local job centre plus should be able to help with this.

She MUST NOT leave the current property she is in. There is a legal process the landlady has to go through to evict her. Local housing will not house her if she leaves voluntarily as she will have made herself intentionally homeless. Its shit for all involved but that is the way the system works.

If she rings the local authority then she may also be entitled to a hardship loan/ grant (each LA calls it something different).

Get her on mumsnet. Lots of support here for her. I know I would go out of my way to help someone in that kind of situation if I could in any way.

worriedsick100 Mon 02-Dec-13 00:14:02

it pays less than half of where she rents now. I am not sure how realistic the housing benefit rates are as what it is going to pay for a 2 bed flat is about the going rate for a 1 bed/studio round here.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:16:26

In that case, she might be better getting on the housing list for a council/HA property, getting evicted, going into a hostel/temp accommodation and then she will be a priority for a council house. It might take a while though.

worriedsick100 Mon 02-Dec-13 00:18:19

Thank you so much, I will try to get her on here. I will try to help her but I just don't know enough about relevant topics.

does this mean she stays put in house for x months and can then apply for housing benefit or should she start looking now for cheaper property. Does she apply now for housing benefit for current property which will in reality only cover half the rent once granted? I am just not sure how this works. I just know that it is easy to do something to invalidate a legitimate claim unintentionally.

lilyaldrin Mon 02-Dec-13 00:22:20

She should apply for housing benefit as soon as possible for the property she is in at the moment, and back date it to when her husband died.

She also needs to apply for income support and widowed parent allowance, council tax benefit, and tax credits.

She then needs to decide whether she wants to stay where she is, pay as much rent as she can and see if the landlady evicts her - in which case the council will house her somewhere - or find a cheaper property that she can afford with housing benefit.

sporktacular Mon 02-Dec-13 00:57:26

When somebody you're close to dies suddenly it is quite normal for your brain to turn to complete mush. If you can, make sure she goes to advice sessions etc with a friend, or someone, who can make notes on what she needs to do and help her remember.

She will need specialist advice urgently, e.g. from Shelter as mentioned above, or the Citizen's Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ (search for your nearest branch), or the Welfare Rights department of her local council. It MUST be specialist legal advice from somewhere like that, because there have been a LOT of big changes to the system recently so with the best will in the world anyone else you speak to may be slightly out of date in their info and this could make a big difference.

Also some of the benefits which used to be nation-wide are now administered by local authorities, so vary from area to area. Local advisers will know how things work in your area.

Local advisers will tell her what to do to get the best possible outcome for her and the kids, and will be well aware of potential traps and pitfalls in the system. There are several I can think of off the top of my head because I work in a related area, but a qualified advice worker will have up to date info and know how to work things to get what's needed as fast as possible.

holidaysarenice Mon 02-Dec-13 01:11:42

If her dh was in a pension scheme even recently then there should be a provison for the kids, its an amount paid monthly and can be a lot more than expected, even as high as half salary etc.

Its called a dependents pension - was he is any scheme? Its not well publisced or known about.

She must claim HB, because one of the reasons she would be considered to have made herself voluntarily homeless would be by not paying the rent.

She should go to the homelessness team at her local authority and tell them what the landlord is threatening. If they are in the loop from the start she will have a much better chance of being rehomed.

"When somebody you're close to dies suddenly it is quite normal for your brain to turn to complete mush. If you can, make sure she goes to advice sessions etc with a friend, or someone, who can make notes on what she needs to do and help her remember."

This is absolutely correct - when my OH died I was in a fog for about 3 months. Just getting myself and the kids up and dressed and feeding them seemed so hard. Let alone making decisions about important things like housing and money.

But a list for her to work through, preferably with support from a friend:

- claim housing benefit today (local authority website) and ask for it to be backdated. (The same claim will also cover Council Tax Support.)

- call 0845 606 0265 and apply for Bereavement Benefit (details https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-payment) and Widowed Parents Allowance (https://www.gov.uk/widowed-parents-allowance) and apply for Funeral Payment if she paid for the funeral and it was less than three months ago. Some of these depends on her husband's NI payments, but hopefully she will get them

- apply for Income Support if has a child under 5 (from local Job Centre)

- tell HMRC that husband has died as this will affect her tax credits claim - if she doesnt have one because he earned too much, apply for one asap www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/claiming/get-started/how-to-claim.htm

- if she has any debts, stop making any payments to them - details about how to do this here, including a link to sample letters debtcamel.co.uk/debt-options/dmp/. In a few months she can look sensibly at her debt options, but not until all her benefits and housing is sorted.

- if her husband had any debts, write to all of them and tell them he is dead, enclose a copy of the death certificate and say that he left no assets, only debts. His debts die with him, she doesn't have to pay them (unless they are joint debts of course)

If she is worrying about being homeless over xmas, the courts don't move that fast - eviction isn't going to happen this year.

She does need to decide if she wants to live where she is now as it sounds expensive. Also does she have any family around to help with the kids and general non financial support? If she wants to move, then the lump sum I hope she will be getting from Bereavement payment and backdated benefits will hopefully give her a good size deposit to rent somewhere else.

(I don't make any money from any links in my posts)

specialsubject Mon 02-Dec-13 12:06:13

how terrible for all concerned.

the landlady has to give 2 months notice to expire on the date that the rent is normally paid. (For all those going 'greedy landlord', the owner of the property also has bills to pay, including something called a mortgage) Your friend cannot be evicted earlier. If she stays put beyond this she can also not be forcibly evicted until the bailiffs come, but this will add big extra costs for her and make her an undesirable tenant in future so is to be avoided.

if she cannot afford to live in the area where she is she will have to move.

But we are a developed country, there are bereavement benefits and help out there.

if anybody reading this does not know their joint finances and does not have cover in place should this happen to them, please get on to it TODAY.

ivykaty44 Tue 03-Dec-13 17:47:14

Just a thought - how does tax work if you die mid year? I am thinking along the lines of would she get some of the tax back that he paid as he didn't work a full tax year?

his debts should die with him - but that will not stop companies trying to get the wiow to pay by hook or by crook, so let her know not to pay

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