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hello all ,

hopefully there is someone who has knowledge of housing law mixed in with human rights law.

 

 

Three weeks ago our lives had a wee change of circumstance. Within the space of 2 days it had been inferred that if we did not do as we are told, we would be street homeless and may lose our child to the SS. !?!!! !!!!:-x (social services)

???what had we done ?are we criminals? aliens? incompetent humans? residents of a country where rights are toilet paper for the ruling class?

 

it was worse than that. we are under occupiers of social housing.

here are the facts, as brief as poss ..

 

My wife ,three children and myself are housed in temporary accommodation ,under the homeless act by our local council, into one of their own properties. This was 10 years ago in 2003 .

 

From the very 1st instance of meeting the council to view this house we requested that it would be our permanent home and have done ever since. With a half hope and a lot of insecurity we started our lives here. 10 years have passed and our 2 eldest daughters have upped and left to create their own families, so since around 2009, only my wife, youngest daughter of 10 years age and myself have lived here. this is a 3 bed house.

 

it appears due to recent legal changes the council have chosen to assess us and decided we have to move to a 2 bedroom ground floor flat that has been adapted for disabled use (I believe they were going to rip it out and turn it back into a normal bathroom as we are all able bodied)

 

they cite two reasons for this discretionary decision ..under occupation and rent arrears. when the "bedroom tax" initially came in we quickly elected that we would pay the 14% and so therefore there was not a problem with us under occupying. the arrears were paid off over time ,although these were accrued through an overpayment of housing benefit , I am not too sure if the council can class these as rent arrears . if not then surely they cannot be used as a reason not to give us a secure tenancy here.

 

now I have spent a lot of time researching as much as I can , and getting advice through recognised channels but they have been pretty futile exercises , they all repeat what the government says . we found shelter to be useless I am afraid. added to this there appears to be a black hole in the southeast, where we live, for legal aid help and advice .

 

we now sit not knowing how to proceed , I have lots of words in my head for a defence case but have no idea on its merits. we have 10 days left before our notice to quit . I do have an appointment with a solicitor ,closest one I could get was 25 miles away, to see if we have a case but not till next week and I really don't know what to say or do if the council make contact in the meantime ! can anybody refer us to some info specifically relevant or some knowledgeable brains please xx

 

oh yes human rights aspect .... I feel as we have no rights as such as we are insecure tenants, our only appeal against this process/decision is through HR ie proportionality ,procedural impropriety , etc ?

Edited by citizenB

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Are there any local church/community support centres ? In my areas, there are many local advice centres, in addition to Citizens Advice. Some of the Church groups are very good, as they will often have access to local Solicitors or people that deal with these situations. And yes they will still help you, even if you are not a regular church attender and an athiest.

 

I suppose what the council are saying, is that your needs now only require a 2 bed property and moving to what they have offered will make any repayment of rent arrears more affordable. This is where you need to be able to discuss your case in more detail with someone who deals with these issues on a regular basis.


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thankyou for the reply uncle ,

we have been to CAB , travelled 15 miles to one in an affluent town where we got an appointment instantly! (as our local one is overloaded) .they just told us to contact our MP. to me ,that would be a totally futile exercise . I don't understand why we could not have been told that over the telephone though !

I must confess ,I have not thought of the church really , last time I visited a church was during a breakdown that I experienced and desperately searching for help, found myself at a couple of local churches. maybe they could help me ... they were closed , nobody was home! bad timing maybe.

I shall give them a call today although I don't have too much faith..

We do not have any rent arrears .

x

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You have been in temporary accommodation for 10 years ?

Were you not put on the priority waiting list at the start of the 10 years ? If not you need to query why that never happened, and as you say the house is a council owned property I would have assumed that it was not "temporary accommodation" as it suited your needs at the time.

The length of time you are housed in temporary accommodation does not have a determined length of time but "You can live there until the council arranges settled accommodation for you or until you find a place you would prefer to live." That quote is from Shelter.

It appears as if the council has not made any effort to find you "settled accommodation" and therefore are in the wrong, you need to contact the council and question this and if the property you are in is council owned you need to be told why you have never been offered a tenancy.

In the mean time it would be well worth your while contacting Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 (calls are free from UK landlines and main mobile networks).

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Hi there,

 

I think some people who could help haven't seen your post because of the time it went on the forum. I'll have a look around and see who I can get to come here.

 

I agree that your MP will probably be a waste of time, but your local councillor might, and should, help. You can find out who they are for your street on the council website. Then check if any of them are on the housing committee and if so approach that one first.

 

From what you are saying, they want to make you homeless on the street, and put your 10 year old daughter into care? That is absolutely shocking.

 

DD

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I presume what you have is a notice to quit? not a court eviction order?

They cant make you move out without a court order, if a court date has been set you must attend and get a solicitor ( shelter usually provide in these cases. ) I cant see a judge granting it on the statements you have made.

It does not seem reasonable they would put you on the street even with arrears.

What are the grounds for the notice of repossession?

Article 8 of the human rights act can and sometimes does affect the councils and court actions, but would need an astute solicitor to put that argument forward.

suggest you just use a common sense approach as to it being unfair and unreasonable.

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Rather than threatening to take your daughter into care, I would have thought you would have been prioritised on the housing list ?


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Hi

 

This is such a sorry situation I would get straight onto your Local Councillor to fight your corner 10yrs in Temp Accom shocking.

 

Which Council please name and shame? (if you rather not don't worry)

 

1. What Agreement is in place for the property that you are presently in?

 

2. The NTQ does it state any reason for the notice?

 

3. Where exactly are they expecting you to move to? (the 2 bedroom disabled property offered have you viewed this property and will you get a tenancy agreement or still classed as Temp Accom)

 

4. Have you seen any documentation on the Councils Under Occupation Policy?

 

5. Have they basically said move to 2 bed property or out of present property and who has threatened to put your child with Social Services?

 

6. Have you been informed exactly where you are on their housing list and what priority?

Edited by stu007

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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

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thankyou for the responses

 

i shall try to outline some facts and actions

 

..our family want to stay in this house ,we feel this is our home,our community.we do not want to move.

 

.. we have been housed in "temporary accommodation for 10 years

 

.. over the space of 10 years our family size has shrunk to 2 adults 1 child due to our 2 eldest daughters moving out

 

.. we have always said we would like to stay here since we first saw the house and have tried to get the council to evolve our tenancy to a secure one. in the early years they just did not respond to our interest in evolving the tenancy,later on around 2008 there was an attempt to advance the tenancy but after an inspection they listed some "alterations" that i had done that were not allowed. i fixed all of these alterations except one the same day.

 

shortly after this i lost my job and had to claim jsa. this then evolved to esa as i had an emotional breakdown due to a few reasons. this all turned out to be an absolute nightmare and we found ourselves in debt with pretty much every government agency ! my duties were to supply a medical cetificate to dwp,they would claim not received for ages,this would then cause housing benefit department of our council to close our claim, an so thus causing overpayments. we always found the "appeals" process a catch 22 of cul de sacs so therefore it became a debt. we were in arrears. so you can see,to me the claim of arrears is unjust ,especially as they appear to have used in a judgement against us,let alone our honour in accepting their rules and paying it off anyway.

 

So since then hoped that after paying our arrears off ,the tenancy could be evolved. (we only paid our arrears off fully this year)

 

instead we were told to move to a one time offer of a 2 bedroom ground floor flat that had been adapted for disabled use. they said they would rip this out and install a new bathroom!!? we are an able bodied family by the way. if we refuse this offer we would make ourselves street homeless , as duty would be over, and the dss would have to be informed as we would be putting our daughter at risk because of our actions ! wow ! walllop ! i dont count it as a valid fear and am aware of the dss "duties" , was just more gobsmacked by the whole process , used to be a jackboot,now its a nice legal sentence.

 

they have said there is no way we can stay due to allocation policies, arrears and alterations (which all,bar 1 were fixed 5 years ago)

desp..yeah its not really them forcing us ,they are giving us a choice ,although a bit one sided to me, i shall try the councillor, which political strain ? dont think the tories are fans of social housing..

 

rds .. priority waiting list !..this would be the bidding bit etc ..erm we have our "own actions" with regard to this. since we moved in ,as i said we always elected to stay here so never filled in the forms to register or anything. we did this each year ,never sent a response as it said do not respond if you do not wish to remain on register. so for 10 years we never did because we did not want to bid on other properties.

 

ray .. we now sit on a notice to quit , expiring on the 13th dec.

 

from my comprehension so far my only way to appeal is at the end of the NTQ and that is the only time i can maybe get our case looked at.and then judicial review under HR to stop such things happening to others?

 

please dont be too harsh with regard to judgements on our desire to stay here . i know and think lots about others that dont have homes etc , but maybe it needs a greater person than i to decide.

 

and anyways we pay the bedroom tax :)

xx

Edited by stu007

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I have put some spaces in your post to make it easier to read for others wishing to give advice.


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stu .. i would gladly name n shame ,but only once we are clear of any wrongdoing :)

1 they call it an "insecure tenancy"

2 NTQ reason is refusal of offer

3 they were offering an introductory tenancy on the flat

4 i have read so may rules n regs ,my brain is frazzled.i droop down on one sentence and soar to the skies on another! i really can make head nor tail of anything no more.

5 have said move to 2 bed property ..the awareness of the threat came from a chat with shelter 1st as that is who we called first. then a telephone chat with council i expressed this and they confirmed it would happen if we made ourselves street homeless through refusal.

6 erm housing list? read above post :{

ty

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yes sorry about my writing , have not had to write anything for years and have certainly never posted on a forum or anything before !

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Hi

 

I can fully appreciate that you wish to stay in the property you have been in for 10yrs now but sadly it is Social Housing but as I don't know their Allocations Policy nor Under Occupation Policy.

 

My concern now with this issue is that the Council has made you the one time offer of the 2 bed property although disabled adapted have said these will be removed and replaced as you are presently under their rules Under Occupying a 3 bed property.

 

If you refuse their offer they may class this as placing yourself as Intentionally Homeless and if they class you as this it would make your situation harder please read this shelter link: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/help_from_the_council_when_homeless/intentional_homelessness


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We wouldn't dream of being harsh on you. I'm sure we all feel very sad that you are in this situation and sympathise.

 

With regard to the Councillor: They differ. I've known Tory ones who are great or awful and the same goes for all the political parties. But, they have to represent all their constituents and anyway they are well aware that a lot of their votes come from Council tenants.

 

I am just so shocked that they would consider making you homeless knowing there is a little girl involved. If they actually go ahead with this eviction, and I'm praying something can be sorted out with the councillor, could your little one live with one of her sisters? If you tell them you have a secure home for her I don't see that they would have any justification for interfering.

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I think as Stu says above, it will depend on their Policy.

 

If they say tenants who have lived in Social Housing with secured tenancies are allowed to stay if they pay the bedroom tax, it's hardly equitable that you can't do the same in light of the fact that you have been living in the same property for 10 years.

 

We are not allowed to recommend solicitors, or anyone else, on this site but as you are in the South East why don't you google Human Rights Lawyers London. One of the first ones that came up when I did it just now were absolutely fabulous to a friend of mine and it didn't cost her a thing. They are known for their social conscience.

 

If the Councillor can't/doesn't help then I would do that.

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yes that is why I do not class it as a valid threat really ,because our daughter would certainly never be "street homeless". and I have just read that link above from stu ,which appears to conflict with what shelter told me initially. I did feel as though they were pressuring us to take it ! hmmm

clip..

No. Social services can only forcibly take a child away from her/his parents if there is clear evidence of a risk of abuse and a court order has been obtained. If social services offer to house the children but not the rest of the family, the parents are not normally obliged to accept this option.

If social services offer to house the child alone, you should get specialist advice

 

so it doesn't appear to be a valid threat anyway

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desp.. yes that is one of my arguments , the reasons for paying the bedroom tax are quite clear. thanks for the human rights google idea , i like what i see already . i never actually did that search if u can believe it ! :( obviously i have done an incredible amount of reading thats led me off in many paths but most has been only to confuse me more or has been a frustrating cul de sac ..ie in the beginning i called the law society who after explaining a little bit gave me a list of solicitors in our local area . after going through all numbers ,none of them could help as did not do legal aid . got referred to local law centers ...our local law center is in south london ..about 25 miles away. i called them and they said i have to go to my local law center , i explained you are my local one ,they said no we are not local ,go to your local one !! aaaargh lol .lots of arranged callbacks that never came,etc Just a couple of examples of the past couple of weeks of frustration.

it is refreshing to hear some other peoples inputs into our situation as it is very hard doing these things alone , and my heart is warmed by the fact people can be bothered. xx

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Hi

 

Please have a read of this Shelter PDF especially to do with Temporary Housing (page 12) but read the full guide:


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desp.. yes that is one of my arguments , the reasons for paying the bedroom tax are quite clear. thanks for the human rights google idea , i like what i see already . i never actually did that search if u can believe it ! :( obviously i have done an incredible amount of reading thats led me off in many paths but most has been only to confuse me more or has been a frustrating cul de sac ..ie in the beginning i called the law society who after explaining a little bit gave me a list of solicitors in our local area . after going through all numbers ,none of them could help as did not do legal aid . got referred to local law centers ...our local law center is in south london ..about 25 miles away. i called them and they said i have to go to my local law center , i explained you are my local one ,they said no we are not local ,go to your local one !! aaaargh lol .lots of arranged callbacks that never came,etc Just a couple of examples of the past couple of weeks of frustration.

it is refreshing to hear some other peoples inputs into our situation as it is very hard doing these things alone , and my heart is warmed by the fact people can be bothered. xx

 

The top London lawyers don't insist you are in their area. The one my friend used deals with a lot of Councils. Her case involved getting proper education for her very badly disabled child and they were absolutely brilliant. Later they helped her move to a house because the flat she was in wasn't suitable, so they deal with housing issues too.

 

As far as being "bothered" is concerned, many of us on CAG, including me, found the forum when we were absolutely desperate and are only so grateful that people could be bothered to help us. We'll always try and help when we can.

 

Good luck making calls tomorrow. :-)

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thankyou stu. have read it , and it appears to confirm that any appeal we can make is only once the council go to court for the eviction .

As the council "sympathise" with us and "agree its unfair" but theres nothing they can do ,as "to do otherwise would be breaking the law" .

I think creating a box that's labelled "insecure , non secure , placing people in it and saying they have no rights is breaking the law

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I know its probably not what you wanted to read but remember you also have the opportunity to defend the eviction in court so please seek advice on this. (if the council ever mention that you do not need to attend court ignore this and attend otherwise they will more than likely get the judgement for eviction)

 

Now some things I would ask the council for copies of:

 

1. Homelessness policy (you want the up to date policy and the policy in force the year you became homeless and place in temp accom).

 

2. Allocations Policy (You want the up to date policy and the policy in force the year you became homeless and placed in temp accom)

 

3. Copies of your rent statements from start of insecure tenancy to date.

 

Also have a check of the councils website as the policies may be available to download.

Edited by stu007

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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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I am sure Shelter will represent you and again I cant imagine a judge granting an eviction order without a suitable alternative residence being available.

However having said that as it is council housing you must be prepared to compromise in the end, you cant always have what you want!

I am sure a judge will be fair in any ruling, but you never know.

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hi all

well, travelled up to London today to speak with a solicitor . we have no hope they said , there's certainly been some maladministration and I could put in a complaint to the council about this . but as to any chance of making a case to try to stay here ,no chance. we are temporary housed , we are non secure . the council have made us an offer of a flat with a garden so it looks like we have no other choice but to accept it .

heres the compromise I guess ray

I have to help my daughter now but may try the local councillor as desp said in a little while . bit despondent at the mo obviously xx

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