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Am I being unreasonable in not wanting to help someone commit benefit fraud?

(48 Posts)
twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 14:48:05

We recently rented out our house to my sister and her friend for 135 a week which is under the going rate. We were happy to do this as I wanted the security, or what I thought was security of renting to people we knew. We did not take a deposit from them but they do have legal contracts.

Two weeks down the line it emerges that her friend, who my sister vouched for is a complete bunny boiling nutter who has stolen from my family owes money left and centre, and has done a bunk owng us rent and breaking our contract which was for 6 months. We are purusuing this girl for the money.

My sister is left in the house on her own and is paying just under half of the rent. She is struggling now as she is paying all the bills on her own. She wants me to sign a "fake" contract saying that she is paying 135 a week on her own so she can get housing benefit.

I have refused and she thinks this is really odd.

TheProvincialLady Thu 21-Aug-08 14:59:14

No you would be mad to do it. Your sister obviously has some strange ideas about morality and it shows in the kind of people she knows. Don't drag yourself down to her level and put yourself at risk of prosecution in the process.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:05:13

That is exactly what I thought, but she seems to think it is reasonable. Her aunty, ( she is my stepsister) also thinks this is perfectly reasonable, her aunty who gives for some voluntary organisation that helps eastern european workers claim benefits says this is done all the time. Even dp who at first agreed with me that it is wrong is not faltering.

tiredemma Thu 21-Aug-08 15:06:09

No- tell her to find somewhere that she can afford and rent your house out at the going rate.

TinkerBellesMum Thu 21-Aug-08 15:06:10

It's the agreed rent and she can't make it, I don't think it's really benefit fraud, unless she plans on pocketing the HB instead of giving it to you.

TinkerBellesMum Thu 21-Aug-08 15:07:08

and if you're not sure she will give it you arrange to have it sent directly to you.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:08:11

She is planning on keeping the housing benefit.

I have not asked her for any more than her share of the money, we are covering that.

chocolatespiders Thu 21-Aug-08 15:08:21

how much would she be paying on her own? if she is entitled to HB... then surely it is not fraud?> but i am not an expert..

you can get HB paid to a family member> i did when i was 21

TheProvincialLady Thu 21-Aug-08 15:08:58

It is fraud as she would be lying. Her contract is to pay half the rent and that is the amount she gets benefits for. If you wanted to rip up the contract (based on the fact that your other tenant has breached it) and write a new one making her the sole tenant at the full rate then you are entitled to provided the other contract is cancelled legally....but TBH I would follow tiredmama's advice and get another tenant.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:10:13

I am not sure how much HB she would get, imagine more than she is paying us in rent! I would actually be very angry if she got HB so she could live as a single woman in a big family house.

chocolatespiders Thu 21-Aug-08 15:12:12

if she doesnt need all the rooms they will take some off as it will be under occupied

does your sister work?

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:13:11

We are seeing a solicitor about the whole thing, but I thought that if she had signed a contract with us for 6 months she had the right to stay for 6 months. TBH the whole episode has us off renting, so we do not want to rent to a stranger, we would rather subidise my sister, but I do not want to do anything illegal.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:14:50

That is what I thought chocolatespiders, when dd was a baby I claimed housing benefit, they almost refused it because the house I was in was too big for dd and I, and yet she seems to think she could get benefit for herself in a much bigger house.

My sister does work, she has just left university.

TinkerBellesMum Thu 21-Aug-08 15:42:14

She won't get more than she pays you if you tell them how much the rent is, in fact she will (as has been said) get less because they will work out how much of the space she doesn't need. Tell her the only way you will fill in HB forms is if it is paid directly to yourself.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 15:47:24

I don;t want housing benefit though, I think that the house is too big for her and she is only there because it suits us so it is up to her and us to find a way of making it work. The state should not be subsidising her living there.

Tinkerbelles mum I meant that if we say that the rent is 135 a week, where as in reality she is paying just over £50 a week she may end up getting more housing benefit than rent.

LIZS Thu 21-Aug-08 15:56:06

You said elsewhere they had separate contracts and she paid 40% or so of the total so you can't just amend that anyway. If you're going to do that you may as well start all over again as you stand a better chance of letting a whole house than one partly occupied.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 16:01:42

Yes that is right Lizs, the whole thing is such a mess.

We want to sell the house, they both knew this and were happy with it. So they had a six month contract and we took the house of the market for a few months, not that it was going anywhere anyway and we were going to put it back on in around October/Nov. If we get new tenants in it means holding things up again and I don't know if it will put buyers off. Can we trust them to leave the house tidy for viewings. That is why when it all went pearshaped we said to my sister you can stay paying 40% of an already subsidised rent and we will pay the rest. I am phoning the estate agent to put it back on the market ASAP.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 16:02:40

If she can't afford the bills we will just have to pay the whole rent/mortgage and it is up to her if she stays or not.

elkiedee Thu 21-Aug-08 16:10:05

I think you should say no to that. Apart from anything else you're presumably liable to tax on rental income. You're already letting your sister live in a nicer place than she could afford otherwise and subsidising that, but I think if you did what she's asking you'd have to pay tax on money she's keeping, as well as being involved in fraud.

Also, as a teacher, presumably you're employed by a local authority. If I did what your sis is asking as a council worker I could be sacked for being involved in defrauding the council, whether it was my own employer or another one.

expatinscotland Thu 21-Aug-08 16:12:49

i would refuse because i wouldn't want to go to jail or rack up fines.

yes, even for my own sister.

NOT reasonable at all. wouldn't consider asking my sister to do this for me because she has a life and a family and a job (teacher) and i wouldn't want her to risk any of that just because i'm a big fuck up.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 16:40:44

I do work for the local authority, although not the same one and have told her this, I just don;t think she thinks sometimes.I am surprised she asked me tbh as I am known for being very straight laced about matters like this and my views on benefits abuse are quite strong.

twinsetandpearls Thu 21-Aug-08 16:42:02

Just to make clear I am not asking for opinions on whether it is right or wrong, it is wrong but I wondered if people thought I was being a little bit precious.

expatinscotland Thu 21-Aug-08 16:43:31

i don't think you're being precious at all.

seriously, she must not be thinking because if you got busted you could lose your job, get fined or even go to jail. no matter if it's in a different authority.

not good.

i'd tell her that, too.

TinkerBellesMum Thu 21-Aug-08 16:44:11

It's the tenant that gets the money, not the landlord. Why shouldn't she get help with her rent if she's entitled to it? It's not up to you whether she is entitled to benefits, if I was her I'd be moving to somewhere where they're not going to stop me getting what I'm entitled to! That's a shocking thing to say about your sister.

As a Landlord you can decide if you will accept DHSS but that's not what you are saying you are doing!

Sorry YABTotallyU!

Oh and she will only get more if you tell them that's what she pays.

expatinscotland Thu 21-Aug-08 16:46:25

Oh, yes, God forbid you try to sort out your own affairs before turning to the taxpayer to sort it all out for you because, by Jove!, you're entitled.

She wants her landlord to draw up and sign a fake tenancy agreement.

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