Perplexing payment

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Mark lost his housing. As the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction paid his shelter allowance directly to his landlord, Mark immediately went to his local office to report his change in living circumstances. Staff assured Mark that the direct payment to his landlord had been cancelled. When Mark picked up his disability assistance cheque the following week, he was shocked to find he only received $138 for the month instead of the expected $638. When Mark asked staff about the $500 discrepancy in his assistance, they told him that the ministry had accidentally issued this payment to his former landlord to cover his rent for the month. Mark requested reimbursement but was told the ministry could not re-issue the payment because his landlord had received the funds and therefore the matter was a landlord/tenant issue. Unable to collect the funds from his former landlord, Mark contacted the Office of the Ombudsperson. Our investigation confirmed Mark’s report that he let ministry staff know of his change in living circumstances and that the ministry had told him that the direct payment to his landlord had been cancelled. We identified that the ministry had updated Mark’s file to remove his shelter allowance entitlement but missed removing the automatically generated rent payment, which led to $500 of his support entitlement being paid to his former landlord. We asked the ministry to reconsider its position that this matter was a landlord/tenant issue as it looked like Mark had done everything he could to ensure the payment was cancelled and it was clear that the ministry made the error. The ministry agreed to review Mark’s file further and acknowledged the administrative error identified through our investigation. In response to this issue, the ministry issued Mark $500 to resolve the errant payment

Category Housing and Property
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2017