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Divorcing: If I have a mortgage, can I move into rented accom and get Housing Benefit?

46 replies

Frooty · 23/11/2006 18:56

I'm not trying to fiddle a benefit here - my mental health has been very bad and I want to move out of my mortgaged house. I'm in the process of a divorce and home situ is bad as there was a previous history of domestic violence (stopped now - not in any danger). Have 2 kids and recently got income support on advice on my solicitor. Was previously working for Ex for his business - obviously not practical to continue with that now, plus I had a breakdown recently and depression, etc. The house is in my name but he is the earner. Currently Ex pays for mortgage and bills etc. Many replying to this could urge me to stay and for him to move out but the cost/benefit analysis isnt worth it to me, plus I'd be better off in rented financially and stresswise. Getting him to move out would start WW3 again and I've had enough. Once I've moved out, the house can be put up for sale and I won't be living in the stress zone. Once I have a breathing space and divorce is final, I'll start trying for jobs to coincide with me getting my share of the equity to put on a small mortgage; then I'll obviously be off any benefits. My current living situ is very stressful. I really want to go.
So question is: can I get Housing Benefit and move into private rented accomm if I already hold a mortgage in my name? My council have given me conflicting answers. I don't want to flat hunt and find a lovely place and then be turned down for HB at the last minute. Does anyone know the answer to this? Thanks. xx

OP posts:
UCM · 23/11/2006 18:58

I wouldn't have thought you could, BUT when you are asked what you were living in before on the form, you could say your DH owned the house. I am not sure how they would find out otherwise.

Frooty · 23/11/2006 19:01

Btw, forgot to mention the obvious - the children will stay with me! They are very excited about moving out.

OP posts:
mrsratty · 23/11/2006 19:06

I don't think you can get HB if you have assests over a certain amount, not sure how much but may only be a few thousand. As your house is an assest I don't imagine you would qaulify, HB is supposed to be for people who have nothing.

Frooty · 23/11/2006 19:13

UCM, the house is only in my name. I will tell it like it is though - too nervy to do otherwise. Shelter and my local Hsg Benefit office were both scratching their heads when I rang and were looking things up in their handbooks + were unsure. If it is possible it might be an exception/loophole. This must have happened to lots of women whose are too mentally low to have to energy remove their abusive partners + deal with the considerable fall out.

OP posts:
Frooty · 23/11/2006 19:18

mrsratty - if the equity was sitting in a bank account then, yes. But atm I can't access the equity. I'm just crossing my fingers that I can get HB.

OP posts:
UCM · 23/11/2006 19:20

I have a horrible feeling then, that mrsratty is right. you won't get sod all as you are considered to have made yourself homeless and have an asset. What about getting a loan to pay the first 6 months rent whilst you sell your house.

UCM · 23/11/2006 19:21

Can you just not mention that you had a mortgage. I wouldn't normally say to anyone to do this but your situation is unusual and you need help. Also what about ringing one of the DV helplines. They would probably know how you go about sorting this out.

hana · 23/11/2006 19:23

they would fijnd out that mortgage is in your name, don't lie

expatinscotland · 23/11/2006 19:23

the assets threshold here is £8,000. and it includes equity.

those who come from mortgage to rented housing are considered voluntarily homeless unless they have had a foreclosure.

once you sell, you'll be expected ot use the procedes towards the cost of rehousing yourself.

no HB here unless you haven't got much of anything.

UCM · 23/11/2006 19:25

here is a link to womans aid. They say they will respond to email. So if you emailed them, they must know the answer.

also if your house is in your name, your dh cannot stop you selling it IMO. True he can apply for some of the profit through a solicitor, but he can't stop you putting it on the market and flogging it.

expatinscotland · 23/11/2006 19:25

i had to get housing benefit once b/c the tax credits people screwed us over and said we'd overpaid them.

left us to live on £13,000/pa gross. and we had NOTHING. no mortgage, savings, assets, etc.

you have to detail anything that might be an asset on the application.

if you don't and sign it, it's fraud.

UCM · 23/11/2006 19:26

I didn't know if they could find out. Sorry.

UCM · 23/11/2006 19:26

You could still email WA and see what can be done.

mrsratty · 23/11/2006 19:59

If you are really desperate a womans sheltler may be an option.

WeaselMum · 23/11/2006 20:57

Hi Frooty - I am a bit hesitant to state this because my brain has turned to mush since starting mat leave this April, but yes I think you can claim hb in a rented property even if you have a mortgage elsewhere.

If you are trying to sell your house the council can disregard the value of the property for 6 months - after that it will be counted as capital and you may well no longer qualify for your income support at that point.

Hassle your hb section again and ask them to check this point - sorry I don't have my handbooks to hand (used to work for an hb section).

btw the "just don't tell them" comments are NOT helpful - the DWP will already know due to the income support claim and so the council would eventually find out - and signing to say you did not own a second property would be fraudulent - not a great start to a new life.

good luck with this Frooty - just get back on the phone to them, there will be someone there who has seen this before and knows for sure!!

UCM · 23/11/2006 21:23

Yes Weaselmum, I did apologise for that.

WeaselMum · 23/11/2006 21:35

sorry UCM, I see that now and I didn't mean to sound so snappy, just get very nervous when I see suggestions like that!!

Frooty, just thought of another couple of things that might be useful as I don't know if you've ever claimed hb before - hb doesn't cover deposits for rent, so you would need to get together a lump sum of cash for that before you signed a rental agreement.

Also I don't know how large (or efficient!) your council is, but if there is a separate tel no for council tax, make sure you contact them when you move out and get your name taken off the council tax account on your current property or it might delay your council tax benefit on the rented house.


Tortington · 23/11/2006 21:39

you have to sell your house.

any ANY income from that you must spend before claiming benefits

benefits are for poor people
not unfortunate ones.

sell your house - if there is any profit - use for rent until run out THEN claim HB

Tortington · 23/11/2006 21:40

you cannot claim anything - if you have a major asset such as a house - as long and arduos a process itmight be you have to sell your house.

ProfessorGrammaticus · 23/11/2006 21:41

Think we're confusing two things here folks?

The existence of your owned home would stop you from presenting as homeless and getting council accommodation. It won't, per se, affect your housing benefit.

The equity in it is what would be relevant re housing benefit - you must disclose it but must also make clear you can't get your hands on it at the moment, until the house is sold. I think you should still qualify assuming your other assets are under the threshold - make clear that here has ben violence. I assume you are ooking for private sector rented accomodation?

Your not-so-DH can stop you selling it, by registering a notice at the land registry.

Tortington · 23/11/2006 21:43

if she gets HB whilst owning a house - i will eat my own arse

UCM · 23/11/2006 21:45


Custy - we are not back to that again.......on a plate or cornet?

Tortington · 23/11/2006 21:46


UCM · 23/11/2006 21:47

Genuinely curious to understand how DH can stop her selling by registering? How does someone go about that? I never knew that.

anonymum2 · 23/11/2006 21:48

My sister recently left her husband in the marital home and rented while sorting out the divorce etc. she did not have a problem claiming hb but she did have trouble finding agent who would rent to her as she was going to claim so she ended up having to pay 6 months rent in advance and then claimed once in the flat - she has now brought a property as house equity has been released.

So you should be able to claim - good luck

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