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028 9024 5640 (option 5)
operated by Housing Rights

Renting to family members and claiming benefits to assist with rent

Anne contacted the helpline as she was considering purchasing a property that is being sold with a sitting tenant. The sitting tenant is her nephew who is currently getting help with housing benefit to pay the rent. She would like to know if she becomes his landlord will he be able to continue to get housing benefit.

We informed Anne that when the landlord and tenant are related the Housing Executive would usually investigate the circumstances to see if they believe the tenancy is contrived. Regulation 9(1)(l) of the Housing Benefit Regulations (NI) 2006 enables the Housing Executive to deny benefit to claimants where “...the appropriate authority is satisfied that the liability [to pay rent and/or rates] was created to take advantage of the Housing Benefit scheme...”. When making a decision regarding contrived tenancies, the Housing Executive must take all relevant circumstances into consideration. These include issues such as the claimant’s “means”, e.g. income, household circumstances, the landlord’s and tenant’s intentions and what would happen if Housing Benefit was not paid e.g. would the tenant be evicted?

It would be down to the decision maker to determine this. If the claimant does not agree with the decision they would have the right to ask for a reconsideration.