Ursula Toner reviews a selection of recent cases, where Housing Rights successfully challenged decisions disadvantaging people who had to leave their homes temporarily. Anyone who is going to be temporarily absent from their home should inform their landlord of this absence, in order to best protect their tenancy rights.
An adviser based at Hydebank Wood College and Women’s Prison, discusses one of her recent cases, where she worked in partnership with the Beyond the Gate team at Housing Rights not just to secure a tenancy for a newly-released client, but also to ensure that the individual had the right support in place to cope independently in the community.
Our Community Housing Advice Partnership provides expert housing support to advisers working throughout Northern Ireland. A recent case highlights how working in partnership with a housing specialist can help member agencies achieve the best outcome for clients.
The dedicated advisers on our housing helpline answer calls from the public from 09:30 until 14:30 Monday to Friday. Recently, they’ve had quite a few calls from tenants who’ve been asked by a landlord to vacate their homes in a matter of days. We’ve also spoken with a few people who have been evicted illegally and thought now might be a good opportunity to review the procedures that landlords must follow in order to regain possession of a property from a private tenant.
Our adviser Severina recently helped a client claim a huge overpayment of rent back from an estate agent. The client, Lesley, had overpaid her rent account by a sizeable amount during the three years she had lived in her private tenancy. It can be difficult to reconcile the amount of rent owed with the amount of money paid towards rent. For this reason, it’s vitally important that tenants keep accurate accounts of all payments they make and get and keep receipts for any cash payments made
Stephen’s client, Esther, is a Housing Executive tenant who had previously fallen into rent arrears. Esther said she’d been too embarrassed to talk to someone when she first fell into arrears and hadn’t gone to court when the Housing Executive had applied for a possession order. In her absence, the judge granted a Possession Order with a stay. This meant that Esther could continue to live in her home as long as she kept to the terms of the order, which were made by the judge in court. Thi
Housing Rights provides the only Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme in Northern Ireland. These court desks schemes, which are more commonly seen in England, provide free legal representation to homeowners and tenants who are in court for possession hearings and risk being made homeless because of housing debt.
Advice and representation at court can make all the difference as this recent example illustrates.
When Brian first spoke to Housing Rights, he was living in a private tenancy and his only income was carer’s allowance. He was in arrears with his rent and at risk of eviction by his landlord. At this stage, Brian was not entitled to Housing Benefit, but our adviser agreed to take on his case and look into how she could help him.
Faith, an adviser with our Community Housing Advice Partnership, recently helped to have a young mother’s housing benefit payments reinstated. The Community Housing Advice Partnership offers a support service to partner agencies who work in the voluntary sector and need expert advice to deal with complex housing cases.
Sandra is a tenant of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive who was represented at court by Emma from our Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme, a project that provides court representation to people who have been taken to court because of rent or mortgage arrears.