Housing / homelessness
Community Law and Mediation Limerick provided advice and legal representation for a client regarding her housing situation. The client had been on the social housing list since 2005 and was living with her partner and her then 18-month old child until October 2015 when their relationship broke down and she was left without a place to stay. She presented to the Homeless Action Team who assessed her as homeless and she was provided with emergency accommodation.
A short time after receiving emergency accommodation she was offered sheltered communal accommodation. This accommodation was unsuitable for a young child given the levels of anti-social and threatening behaviour of residents. The client refused this allocation on the grounds that it was unsuitable for her and her child. The local authority determined that this refusal meant that she would no longer be considered homeless and that therefore she would no longer qualify for support. This left our client with no alternative but to move into her parents’ house where she and her child would sleep on the couch. The house was extremely overcrowded and was entirely unsuitable and additional pressures exacerbated the severe mental health issues endured by several members of the household.
The client attempted to find suitable private accommodation that she could rent under the Housing Assistance Payment but was informed after enquiring that she had been removed from the housing list several years previously for failing to respond to a Housing Needs Assessment. The client had never received any communication and was not informed of her removal from the list until she applied for the HAP in 2016.
CLM Limerick made representation to the local authority on her behalf regarding both the decision to remove her from the housing list and the decision to no longer consider her as homeless. We wrote to the local authority, stating that the basis for the removal from the housing list was unfounded and had no basis in law and we called on the local authority to overturn its decision. We sought for the client to be immediately re-assessed in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Act 1988 and (ii) that she, and her minor son, be immediately reinstated with priority on the Council’s register of qualified households within the meaning of Regulation 16 of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 (SI 84 of 2011) as a matter of urgency. In the absence of a positive response we instructed Counsel to draft proceedings with a view to challenge both decisions. Following a final warning letter in advance of issuing proceedings, the local authority agreed to reinstate the client on the housing list with a backdated position on the list. authority and also agreed to reinstate the client in alternative emergency accommodation.
Following representations made by CLM Limerick to the local authority on behalf of the Client, she was reinstated on the housing list with a backdated placement on the list. CLM Limerick also assisted the client in being reassessed as homeless, which allowed her to source emergency accommodation while looking for a suitable HAP tenancy. Following a significant period, the client and her child have now been housed under a long-term RAS tenancy. This case highlights the need for support for those in need of emergency accommodation, as without the intervention of CLM Limerick the client would have been left without any housing assistance and would have likely continued in very unsuitable accommodation or couch surfing.