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Housing benefit haven't paid me what shall I do?

In a recent court case a tenant had fallen into arrears of rent so the landlord started possession proceedings. There was no dispute that both at the date of the service of the notice of proceedings under section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 and at the date of the hearing, the arrears exceeded the 8 weeks limit specified in ground 8. Therefore, it appeared that the court was obliged by section 7 of the Act to make an order for possession.

The tenant made an application to the judge for an adjournment of the possession proceedings. The application included the submission that the appellant should be given time to obtain the money to meet the arrears, or at least to bring them below the ground 8 threshold, and thereby enable him or her to defeat the claim. The tenant was in receipt of housing benefit saying the inability to pay the rent was caused by misadministration or other unjustified failures by the housing benefit authorities to pay housing benefit.

It was decided that the fact that the arrears were caused by misadministration on the part of the housing benefit authority was not an exceptional circumstance. The Court stated that …"It is a sad feature of contemporary life that housing benefit problems are widespread." …The Court did not consider that the non-receipt of housing benefit can, of itself, amount to exceptional circumstances which would justify the exercise of the power to adjourn so as to enable the tenant to defeat the claim, but they did "acknowledge that this conclusion will lead to tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit having no defence to a claim for possession in circumstances where they are not at fault."

The landlord was successful and the possession order granted.

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