Case Study – Scotwras service helps a worker give advice to avoid homelessness

A caller to Scotwras was seeking advice for single parent female with 6 children living in private rented sector (PRS) accommodation. The client was affected by the Benefit Cap which came into force in July/Aug 2013 and was struggling to manage her PRS rent. The caller was already assisting with a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) application and this was pending. In the meantime the client was looking for other accommodation that she could afford in the long term. She had applied to the Local Authority for housing, this application was taken but suspended based on the fact the client had former PRS and secure tenancy debts relating to arrears and damage costs. The caller was seeking advice from Scotwras on options for the client as she wants to move from the PRS home but cannot access other housing due to suspension rules.

The housing adviser at Scotwras was able to inform the caller about the legal basis for the Local Authority’s decision to suspend the application for rehousing. In relation to former tenancy debt an application can be suspended until a) a suitable repayment arrangement has been made, b) there have been payments to this for at least 3 months and c) that these payments continue thereafter1. Once the client has complied with these terms any suspension on the basis of tenancy debt should be lifted.

The caller was also supported by Scotwras in providing homelessness advice to the client. Someone who has a home can make a homeless application to the Local Council if their current accommodation is not reasonable to occupy2. The homeless service should investigate whether the client’s current accommodation may be unreasonable for her to continue to live in based on its affordability. If the Local Authority’s decision goes against the client, they have the right to request the Local Authority to review this3. The basis of pursuing a homeless application would be to access temporary accommodation and seek a level of priority for an offer of affordable social housing, supporting the client in a move away from costly PRS.


 

(1) These rules lie within the terms of Section 20 (2A) (b) of the Housing Scotland Act 1987, as amended by the 2001 Act.

(2) The reasonableness to occupy falls within the Housing Scotland Act 1987 Part 24 (2A).

(3) The right to request a review falls within the Housing Scotland Act 1987 Part 35A.

 


The Scottish Welfare Reform Advisory Service (Scotwras) is a joint partnership between Shelter Scotland and Child Poverty Action Group.  The service provides housing, debt and benefits advice for frontline advice and support staff in Scotland.

For housing and debt advice call: 0344 515 1310

For benefits advice call: 0141 552 0552

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