Disabled Kingsbury pensioners taken to court over £5k rent arrears they say they don’t owe
PUBLISHED: 14:37 09 August 2018
A disabled couple in their 70s are accused of being £5,000 in rent arrears by their housing association landlord – who is taking them to court to evict them.
Suresh Sheth and his wife Lana, both 72, have lived in sheltered accommodation in Old Kenton Lane for two years.
Network Homes claims it is owed more than £5,000 by the couple following a tortuous series of overpayments and reimbursements that passed through Mr Sheth’s bank account on their way between the association and Brent Council. Mr Sheth denies this and has shown the Brent & Kilburn Times bank statements and rent statements that appear to disprove he owes anyone money.
The housing association took Mr Sheth to court on July 21, although the case was postponed until September 24 by judges after its representatives failed to provide any evidence.
Mr Sheth says the resultant dispute is “tormenting” and “confusing” both him and his wife.
“How can I owe them [Network Homes]?” he said. “They can’t explain, they don’t explain, they don’t want to know.
“This is confusing for people – ordinary people, vulnerable and disabled people – to understand. It is tormenting us.”
Brent Council is supposed to pay Mr Sheth’s housing benefit directly to Network Homes. The housing association told Mr Sheth in April that Brent had overpaid it by nearly £5,600.
He believes Brent then ended up “clawing back” too much, leaving Network Homes in turn out of pocket.
Brent and Network Homes this week gave the Times a rather different account of events, claiming Brent had simply paid the cash into the wrong account – Mr Sheth’s instead of Network Homes’. Even more confusingly, bank statements and a rent statement seen by this newspaper appear to show this did not happen.
Rent statements seen by the Kilburn Times show on September 1, 2017, Brent paid Network Homes £8,547.26 in housing benefit. On October 30, more than £5,000 is removed from the account – and, a month later, a “HB Overpayment” charge is made of £5,598. It is not clear who Network Homes paid either of these sums to, or what the first one was actually for.
Network Homes’ Gerry Doherty said: “There has been some confusion over the tenant’s housing benefit payment.
“Whereas normally the local authority would pay this directly to Network Homes, in this instance it was paid to the tenant, meaning we didn’t receive their rent, which put the tenant in arrears.
“We have now spoken to the tenant to arrange a meeting to resolve the situation and we’ll be working with the local authority to come to a positive outcome for the tenant.”
Brent gave the same version of events. But neither it nor Network Homes made any reference to the fact Network Homes was seeking possession of the house because of the alleged arrears.