In 2016, CLM represented a client who had made an application for social housing support in or around 1998. In 2002, with the assistance of Rent Supplement, the client and her two children moved into private rented accommodation and remained there until 2016, when the property was transferred to a Receiver and the client was served with a Notice of Termination. At this stage, the rental property market had changed dramatically and the client was finding it very difficult to source accommodation within the rent supplement limits. At risk of homelessness, the client approached her local authority for support and discovered that despite applying for social housing in 1998, she was only on the housing list since 2006.
CLM Northside’s Input
The client came to the free legal advice clinic at Community Law and Mediation for help. She met with one of the volunteer barristers who provided her with initial advice and then referred her in to meet one of the solicitors in CLM for further support. CLM corresponded with the local authority regarding the client’s loss of eight years on the housing list. The local authority maintained the client had not responded to correspondence seeking up to date address details and confirmation that she still required social housing support. This was disputed by the client and the local authority could not adduce any evidence to support their position. When the client’s position on the list was not rectified, CLM instructed Counsel, and successfully sought permission to seek judicial review of the decision. Very shortly thereafter, the local authority agreed to backdate the client’s application to 1998. Documentation subsequently provided by the local authority under the Freedom of Information Acts demonstrated that the client had been engaging regularly with the local authority and that they were aware of her address.
As a result of the support provided by CLM, initiated in the free legal advice clinic sponsored by The Bar of Ireland, the local authority backdated the client’s application to 1998 and the client’s household was positioned at the top of the list and was housed almost immediately.
When the client first approached CLM’s free legal advice clinic, she and her family were at risk of homelessness. She described how “brick walls were constantly being put in front of [her] and CLM bulldozed every wall”.