Pregnant tenant seeking benefit wants new tenancy agreement

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Three months into a 6 month fixed term AST, our tenant informs us that he and his partner's baby is due next week and his partner wishes to claim all appropriate benefits to help pay the rent. The AST is all set to roll over into a periodic tenancy and is in joint names of the tenant, his partner AND his brother.

At the time we did the tenant referencing and checked them into the flat, all three were earning and no mention was made of the pregnancy which really wasn't obvious at all from the lady's appearance! Now they realise that their benefit application will be influenced by the brother's wage, they want a new tenancy agreement just in the couple's joint names. While the brother moving out in the future will be a good idea when the baby is older since it is a very small flat, we feel that
a) there is a strong probability the brother will stay for a while even if he is not on the TA
b) any new issue of an AST now in just their two names will be viewed by the Council as fraudulent conspiracy to claim housing benefit so we are not prepared to do that (especially since they are still within their fixed term and the council tax is registered in all three of their names!)

Although we feel slightly misled by the tenants regarding the pregnancy, so far they have been excellent at paying their rent on time and we are happy for them to stay if they are able to afford to. Being ignorant of Universal Credit we are looking for advice on the best way to approach this so that the tenants get their benefits with minimal delay but we are not acting illegally or perceived to be doing so by the LA.

We were thinking that If the brother moves out, at the end of the Fixed Term we could then issue a new AST in just the couple's names, or should we do a revision then or now taking the brother off and allowing the existing but revised tenancy to roll over? Obviously the couple will need to process their benefit application ASAP though and we want to make this as easy as possible for them so they can afford to live and pay the rent at what must be a very stressful time for such young people (19 and 21) with a new baby.

Since we have no experience of benefits claimants, any suggestions as to the best course of action for us all will be gratefully received. Many thanks.
24/07/2015 18:28

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