My clients are Trustees of a vulnerable person discretionary trust which owns a flat in which their adult, disabled son lives. The son is in receipt of PIP and Universal Credit. My clients are aware that their son is not eligible for housing support for any rent or service charge payable to a Trust to which he has a connection. However, the service charge in this instance is not payable to the Trust or any other Trust the son or any of his relatives are associated with in any way. It is payable to the owner of the freehold, a unrelated third-party.
My understanding is that there are 4 conditions for eligible service charges payments:
The first condition is that the right to occupy the accommodation depends upon the tenant paying service charges, for example where it forms part of the tenancy agreement (UC Regulations 2013, Schedule 1, Paragraph 8(3)) – The son is occupying the property under the terms of a Tenancy Agreement which makes his residence in the flat dependent upon him taking responsibly to pay the service charge to the Freeholder.
The second condition is that the service charge wholly falls into one or more of the following categories (UC Regulations 2013, Schedule 1, Paragraph 8(4)):
category A: maintaining the general standard of the accommodation Version 1.0 – April 2013
category B: areas of communal use
category C: basic communal services
category D: tenant accommodation-specific charges
The third condition is that the costs or charges are reasonable and that they relate to such services as it is reasonable to provide (UC Regulations 2013, Schedule 1, Paragraph 8(5)).
The fourth condition is that none of the following applies to the service charge (UC Regulations 2013, Schedule 1, Paragraph 8(6)):
public funding (in the form of benefits, grants or other sources) is designed to contribute towards the cost of the service or facility, irrespective of whether the tenant has claimed for the funding
where the tenant would acquire an asset, or interest in an asset
The demands from the freeholder evidences that the service charge meets the 2nd, 3rd & 4th requirements.
My clients, as Attorneys for their son, made a request to DWP for UC to pay the service charge more than two years ago, providing them with the Service Charge demands and a copy of the Tenancy Agreement.
Every time my clients contact DWP they are promised that they will get an answer on whether or not their claim is successful but then hear nothing. The various caseworkers at the DWP suggest that this is the first time such a claim has been made and they don’t know how to deal with it, which I find surprising.
Has anyone been successful in claiming UC for service charges in this situation?