A South Tyneside landlord has set up a free advisory service for tenants.
Colin Campbell has set up the service in response to requests he has had for advice over the years, and he hopes to be able to help put concerned tenants’ minds at rest.
Mr Campbell is currently supporting one tenant taking county court proceedings in an attempt to retrieve a bond from another landlord.
One of the most common problems he encounters is tenants being given incorrect information about co-habiting regulations.
He said: “One tenant of mine in Stanhope Road, South Shields, had a home visit from a housing benefit officer. She was informed that if she stays over at her boyfriend’s house, her housing benefit could be stopped, which is a load of tosh and discriminates against people on benefits.
“I wrote to Lord Falconer about this some years ago, when he was at the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and received a definitive answer on the rules that apply.”
A reply to that query, from Malcolm Wicks, a minister for work and pensions, said: “No single point can decide the question of living together, as husband and wife, but they must be members of the same household.
“Reference to a partner only being able to stay for the minority of the time, for example, three nights a week, is incorrect and has no basis in case law.”
The tenant concerned said: “I was told that if I stay over, it would be classed as co-habiting and that my housing benefit would be stopped.
“My partner works away two weeks every month, and I would like to be able to stay overnight there sometimes, so the place looks occupied.”
Mr Campbell added: “This issue needs to be highlighted, as it is causing a lot of concern to people on benefits.”
The Tyneside Tenant/Landlord Advisory Service can be contacted by writing to: Lloyds Bank Chambers, 87 Laygate, South Shields, NE33 5RF, or by e-mail at email@example.com