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Was Rent Overpaid For Seven Years?

Monday, April 22, 2013

GMB Disabled Member Wrongly Assessed For “Bedroom Tax” By Birmingham City Council Due To Error Over Number Of Bedrooms Asks If Rent Was Overpaid For Seven Years

Since Birmingham City Council classify property as having 3 bedrooms it is very likely that for 7 years member was overcharged rent for a 3 bedroom rather than a 2 bedroom dwelling says GMB.

GMB disabled member, Karen Bayliss who lives in Shard End, Birmingham, is seeking information from Birmingham City Council to establish if she has overpaid rent for seven years. This follow the council wrongly seeking that she pay bedroom tax because the council have her dwelling incorrectly listed as three bedrooms when it is in fact it is only two.  See copy of letters to Housing Department below.

When Ms Bayliss contacted the Birmingham City Council Rent Department to query the demand that she pay the tax she was informed that because her and her son, who is Ms Bayliss carer, live in a three bedroom property she would have to pay ‘bedroom tax’. As the property has two bedrooms it is likely she has been overcharged rent. She is now seeking assistance from GMB to resolve the matter. 

Joe Morgan, GMB Regional Secretary, said “Over a month ago Ms Bayliss made a complaint which she is still waiting for a written response from the council.

A housing inspector has now confirmed, after a visit on 27th March, that she occupies a two bedroom property. Hopefully that will end the bedroom tax deduction from her housing benefit.

She had paid rent for seven years since she moved into the dwelling from March 2004 until around June 2011 when she had to claim housing benefit. Since Birmingham City Council classify the property as having 3 bedrooms it is very likely that for 7 years she was overcharged rent for a 3 bedroom rather than a 2 bedroom dwelling.

Ms Bayliss has asked the GMB to help her establish if she was over charged for rent and if so to help her recover the amount she over paid. GMB will help her with this issue.”

End

Contact: Amanda Gearing GMB 07957 265 678 or Samantha Jones 0121 550 4888 or GMB press office 07921 289 880

copy of letter of 7th March 2013 to Birmingham City Council

Dear Rent Services

I am writing to you to lodge a complaint regarding the service I have received from your Rent department.

I have been receiving letters regarding Bedroom Tax of £13.13 per week that will be taken off my Housing Benefit and that I will have to pay on my property from April. Today I phoned the Rent Office and spoke to John who informed me I was liable for the Bedroom Tax as I lived in a 3 bedroom property and as there were only myself and my son, my home was under occupied.

On telling John that my council property only had TWO BEDROOMS I was spoken to as though I was a complete idiot. He insisted I have got 3 bedrooms, I was either lying or I had made alterations myself without informing the Council and I will have to pay the Bedroom Tax. After a very exasperating conversation with him I asked if my home could be inspected to prove that there has only ever been 2 bedrooms in this property.

I moved into this two bedroom property with my son on the 8th March 2004 and paid rent until May 2011 when through ill health and being disabled I was made redundant and had to apply for Housing Benefit.

I am now on DLA Highest Rate Mobility and Middle Rate Care Allowance and my son Stefan Bayliss is my Carer. I really do not need all this stress and worry which drastically affects my health even more, I am disabled not a complete idiot and I really do not appreciate being spoken to in that way regarding an invisible extra bedroom we have never had.

These houses were built in the sixties and have always been Council properties. My next door neighbour who is 97 years old moved in when they were newly built and after nearly 50 years I would think she would know that this block of houses have only ever had 2 bedrooms.

I know on this estate there are 2 and 3 bedroom properties and I live in a 2 bed house. How can Birmingham City Council not know how many bedrooms are in this property?

As stated we moved into this property on the 8/03/2004 and I paid rent for 7 years until May 2011. For those 7 years how much have I been continually overcharged in rent every month for an invisible bedroom I do not have?

Also how can I be charged Bedroom Tax of £13.13 a week for an invisible bedroom I do not have?

I really cannot believe this from a Council that obviously have no idea regarding their own properties.

How many other tenants are being treated this way?

I am in the process of informing my MP and local media as I cannot believe a disabled person can be treated and spoken to as though they are a complete idiot!

Your quick response would be appreciated.

Yours in disbelief Mrs Karen Bayliss

2 Copy of second letter to Birmingham City Council dated10th April 2013

Dear Rent Services

Further to my letter to you dated 7th March ’13 regarding the service I have received from Birmingham City Council Rent Department, I am again writing to you to lodge a formal complaint regarding the issue that has been brought to my attention via letters I received on reductions to Housing Benefit on Size Criteria Restrictions to this property with Birmingham City Council stating that I live in a property with 3 bed rooms and also the appalling service and attitude I received over the phone. 

As previously stated by myself via a telephone conversation to ‘John’ this property has TWO bedrooms and being told by him I am obviously a liar as the property according to your records has 3 bed rooms and I am therefore liable for ‘bedroom tax’. I do not appreciate being spoken to by him as though I am a complete idiot, I am disabled not stupid.

The property has now been inspected by a Mr Srai and it is known that this property has in fact only got two bedrooms as I had stated. I would appreciate an answer to this and my previous letter.

Under the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act I again make a formal request of all information held by Birmingham City Council:-

A copy of my Tenancy Agreement

Value of Property with regard to your records stating this property had 3 Bed rooms not TWO.

Breakdown of monthly rent charges from May 2004 and June 2011, regarding rent charged and paid by myself during my Tenancy.

As previously stated I moved into this property 08/03/2004. From this date until approximately June 2011 I paid monthly rent. After this date due to ill health I had to apply for Housing Benefit.

Considering your records were wrong on size of property and stated an extra bedroom I have never had, at what level of rent, 2 or 3 bedroom property, was I charged at during the seven years of myself paying rent?

I have sought advice on this matter and a response in writing with a complete breakdown of requested information within 20 working days from receipt of this letter, which will be sent recorded delivery is requested.

Yours Faithfully

Mrs Karen Bayliss

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