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Housing Benefit suspended:pay rent or do Christmas - can't do both!

(381 Posts)
NoMoneyMona Fri 18-Dec-15 14:00:15

I had to put in a claim for top up housing benefit as my job contract ended in October. DH works full time but rent is very high (£1200 for a 3 bed) and we have 3 DC.

I have been unable to find another job despite applying for at least 2/3 most days, as many want weekend workers/evenings, and DH works weekends/eves anyway so we would have no childcare.

HB started paying about 3 weeks later and shortly after that they sent a letter asking for more evidence and gave me a month to supply it. Part of the evidence requested was a new child tax credit award showing the new award since I stopped working as amount would increase. I still did not have a new award by the time the month was up (and I forgot to chase them) so I contacted HB the day after the month was up to explain.

They stated, quite correctly I agree, that I should have contacted them within the month they gave so they could give me more time and as I did not contact them, they had suspended my HB and it would 3/4 weeks to reinstate it. The next day, I got the award notice and took it in to them but they insisted that I would be at the back of the 'queue' and they may not get to my claim before Christmas so I may have to wait until January as they close from the 24th Dec to 4th Jan.

That was 3 weeks ago. We have not had any payments since 23rd November. DH got paid today and if we use that for rent next week (and direct debits, normal food), we will not have a penny left. I will have £50 in tax credits to come as well which will not cover many extras. I have not bought anything for DC as I kept putting if off hoping for the claim to be reinstated. When I rang today, they said I would be unlikely to get any money before the 11th January! We have no access to credit.

WWYD? Would I be unreasonable to keep back about half of the rent and pay the rest when the HB restarts which will cover the shortfall?

SilentlyScreamingAgain Fri 18-Dec-15 14:05:02

Could you get in touch with the landlord and see if some kind of compromise could be reached?

SisterMoonshine Fri 18-Dec-15 14:05:59

Who are you paying rent to?
If council or housing ass. they might be quite reasonable about your paying half plan - especially with paperwork evidence re award notice etc.

SisterMoonshine Fri 18-Dec-15 14:07:09

Private landlord could equally be as reasonable too, but more of an unknown.

DancingWithWillard Fri 18-Dec-15 14:09:11

Unfortunately I think you will have to prioritise rent. Yes, your kids will be disappointed, but it is better than the upheaval of being given notice to quit or the bailiffs turning up (worse case scenario). How old are your children? Can you tell them that xmas will be moved to Jan when they can have xx amount budget to shop in the sales, therefore getting more than they would normally? Will they be getting presents from other people? Are you going to a family member for xmas lunch?

unlimiteddilutingjuice Fri 18-Dec-15 14:10:03

I agree with SilentlyScreaming I think you need to explain the situation to the landlord.
In your position, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to pay half, especially since you expect to have the rest in the new year.
He/she is far more likely to be sympathetic if they know the whole story though.

Stimpack Fri 18-Dec-15 14:11:25

You need to speak to your landlord, don't just withhold rent.

PurpleDaisies Fri 18-Dec-15 14:13:59

Definitely speak to your landlord-they will be far more likely to be helpful if you let them know your rent is likely to be a problem in advance rather than just paying less.

Have you got any presents already? If there are any expensive ones you could consider returning them and buying cheaper things instead to help make the money go further. Really hope it works out OK for you.

eatingworms Fri 18-Dec-15 14:14:20

Well the sensible answer would be to pay your rent.
But I really feel for you so I know if I was you I would probably try to speak to my LL about keeping some rent back this month and catching up later.
Very hard to know how your LL would react though but I don't suppose it would hurt to ask.

CheeseandGherkins Fri 18-Dec-15 14:19:02

What if the landlord is relying on the money to pay their own bills or fund Christmas?

Jw35 Fri 18-Dec-15 14:19:25

Check with landlord thanks

Jw35 Fri 18-Dec-15 14:20:10

Also it does pay to be prepared for Xmas in advance (I never am so totally not judging)

leopardgecko Fri 18-Dec-15 14:20:29

I hope things get sorted for you OP.

However, this is not at all directed at you, OP, but could I put out a general plea on behalf of landlords, that so rarely gets mentioned. I rented out my mum's house, and the rent was all used to pay her care home fees. Tenants we had would never pay in December and seemed to think this was perfectly acceptable - after all Christmas is all about the children, and they must come first?! However, this meant we could not pay my mum's care home fees then also, and that led to such a problematical, financial situation ourselves and so in the end we had to terminate their lease.

So I guess I really wanted to say, is maybe be truthful with the landlord, but if he does need, or insist on the full rent, then that really does have to come first. And please don't think, as many others often do, that landlords are wealthy, they have their own lives and individual situations too.

But good luck.

goodnightdarthvader1 Fri 18-Dec-15 14:20:42

Speak to your landlord. You can't just decide not to pay your full rent.

NoMoneyMona Fri 18-Dec-15 14:20:47

It's a private landlord. She lives abroad. Don't think she will be reasonable as I know the full rent is needed to pay the mortgage as mortgage is higher than the rent seen mortgage statement. She recently put rent up very aggressively, threatening to evict if we didn't agree even though it has been put up more that the % agreed in the contract. We only agreed as it meant we could stay for another year with new contract as few rentals here.

She has been quite rude actually, so not sure why I am bothered at putting her at an inconvenience tbh. Tried to sell in the summer whilst expecting us to facilitate viewings and refused to reduce rent whilst doing so.

No presents from anyone else as we have no family. Xmas Dinner at home. DC have not asked for much.

Stimpack Fri 18-Dec-15 14:22:28

The rent comes first then.

goodnightdarthvader1 Fri 18-Dec-15 14:22:46

not sure why I am bothered at putting her at an inconvenience tbh.

Maybe because she can evict you if you don't pay your rent on time?

U2HasTheEdge Fri 18-Dec-15 14:23:03

Mine has been suspended too.

I am housing association so I called them but I'm still getting letters threatening to take me to court. I have to go back to the housing office once I receive a court date and then they will rush my claim through hmm

I am planning to wait for them to backdate it when they have worked out my claim and whatever is left I will have to sort out a payment scheme with them.

They wanted three months of payslips, so that's three months of them doing nothing while my rent isn't paid. If I receive full HB then no problem, but if I don't I'm going to get a nice debt. We have paid the odd £20 here and there to show willingness but I haven't been able to afford much else.

So I feel your pain. If they bloody hurried up a bit more it would be very helpful. They are now looking through 4 months of my bank statements.

neonshine Fri 18-Dec-15 14:24:35

Speaking as a landlord, I would always appreciate open communication. Pay what you can and let them know the balance will be paid on x date.
As a mum of 2 DC I can completely understand not wanting to ruin Christmas, and to be honest, if I knew the balance of the rent was going to be available 10 days late, I'd pay a portion of the rent and do a scaled down Christmas.

leopardgecko Fri 18-Dec-15 14:25:00

What if the landlord is relying on the money to pay their own bills or fund Christmas?

Yes, that was our situation when renting out my mum's house. The rent went straight into paying my mum's care home fees. And when the tenants did not pay at Christmas, we had to really struggle and borrow money because obviously the care home should not have been expected to wait for their fees. Ended up with a pretty lousy Christmas for us, whilst knowing the tenant's children were able to have their gifts and so on.

Learningtoletgo Fri 18-Dec-15 14:25:49

Is there anything you could sell?

FuckingCrumbs Fri 18-Dec-15 14:27:22

Rent has to come first, sorry it's shit but a roof over your heads is the priority.

VegetablEsoup Fri 18-Dec-15 14:28:31

rent, council tax and utilities must must must come first.
so, yes that means a very slimmed down christmas for you.
sympathies though, sounds really tough and unpleasant for you, hope it gets better from now on.

leopardgecko Fri 18-Dec-15 14:31:00

She has been quite rude actually, so not sure why I am bothered at putting her at an inconvenience tbh. Tried to sell in the summer whilst expecting us to facilitate viewings and refused to reduce rent whilst doing so. No presents from anyone else as we have no family. Xmas Dinner at home. DC have not asked for much.

It may be unpleasant that someone is rude, but you still have to pay. A shop assistant this morning was rude to me in Tesco, but I couldn't walk out without paying for my shopping because of it. It is not fair to pass on your financial problems to the landlord and their family. I understand how hard it is, my daughter and SIL have just changed jobs and are not getting paid until after Christmas, meaning they are struggling to buy their baby anything this year. But still their bills have to come first. Just as all my family are desperate to see Star Wars, but will have to wait and see what is left after paying all the bills.

Bearbehind Fri 18-Dec-15 14:31:08

Half the rent is £600. Surely you're not considering spending £600 on Christmas when you're in such a dire financial situation?

Try and pay your rent, or at least the very vast majority of it before buying anything for Chrustmas.

If there's not much in the rental market then the last thing you need in the new year is to be evicted for non-payment.

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