Oh dear. Another example of a sector-promoting magazine doing the complete opposite by not editing rants and posts.
Well, surely a 'simple' 'outline' answer would be - the contractual relationship is between the landlord and tenant, so therefore the tenant has the right to challenge the landlord over non-provision of the services set out in the contract.
It is inconsequential to the landlord that the tenant has their rent paid by HB, as the charge would be levied whatever means the tenant has. However, landlords have to pass a fit and proper person test, and while larger social landlords rarely undergo this test, repeated reporting of landlords failing to deliver services charge for, may, and I emphasise may, prompt a local authority to investigate. Failure of the local authority to respond could then be reported to the Benefit Fraud Inspector or Local Government Ombudsman.
If a tenant, paying or in receipt of HB, successfully challenges their landlord and is awarded a refund, then this can in theory be paid back to the local authority who originally paid the allowance.
You could always indicate you would complaint to a Valuation Tribunal if you felt your service charges were unreasonable. You may also give 28 days' notice of witholding rent (or part thereof) if your landlord is in breach of its contractual obligations - you do, however, have to demonstrate that you have kept the money aside to pay if your claim is ultimately unsuccessful.
There, it is possible to give an outline reply which might help this lady head in one of a number of directions.
Will this forum ever become less combative and less embarrassing?