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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bradford Council admits it overcharged some of its tenants by a total of £344k

Almost 260 Council tenants have been overcharged - report reveals

Bradford council has revealed that it overcharged some of its tenants by a total of £344,000.

The Council’s Housing Team is currently contacting social housing tenants who may have been affected by historic rent errors, which it says are now being rectified.

Details of the overcharging will be given at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Executive next Tuesday.

A report to the Executive says a review of services in the Council’s Housing Revenue Account identified that historically some rents and service charges were incorrectly calculated, and the mistake led to 259 tenants over-paying.

The Council is in the process of refunding those it overcharged, and hopes to do so by the end of March – but the report says it may be a “lengthy process” to find some tenants who have since moved out.

The report says after a review: “It became apparent that historically, the setting of rents and service charges had not been conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Regulatory Framework for social housing.

“Three issues were found.

• In the case of Fletcher Court, while rents were set well below the 80% of Market Rent that is the ‘cap’ for affordable rented accommodation, service charges were applied in addition to affordable rents, rather than inclusively.

• General needs dwellings let at affordable rents had not been correctly revalued prior to re-let (after former tenants had left), and the new rents established based on 80% of current market value as should have been the case.

• Those general needs homes let as Social rents had in some cases had the rent incorrectly calculated. The formula for establishing such rents is very complex and requires a degree of expertise to do so accurately.

“The impact of the matters identified have been forensically assessed and have determined that a total of 259 current tenants and former tenants have been overcharged.

“The total amount of overcharging amounts to £344,000 since April 2020.

“A process has been put in place to identify tenants and former tenants who have been overcharged.

“The process of tracing former tenants may in some cases be lengthy, as it is not always immediately possible to ascertain current whereabouts. In the case of deceased former tenants, refunds to the deceased’s estate / beneficiary will be arranged.”

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Planning, Transport and Regeneration, said: “As soon as the Council became aware of this issue, Council officers took professional advice, referred the Council to the Regulator of Social Housing and undertook immediate and robust action to remedy the situation.

“We sincerely apologise to any tenants who were incorrectly charged, and the Council is working hard to contact everyone affected to refund them.”

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