Housing benefit rules breach disabled rights, says court

Housing benefit rules breach disabled rights, says court

17:03 PM, 15th May 2012, About 12 years ago 4

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The government’s housing benefits policy is in disarray as judges have ruled a crucial test to confirm how big a house a tenant qualifies to rent discriminates against the disabled.

The housing benefit regulations, which came into force in April 2012, were criticised as flawed in the Court of Appeal because they do not allow benefit payments for an extra room if a disabled person has a carer or a disabled child cannot share a room with other children.

Announcing the decision, Mr Justice Henderson said: “I am satisfied that maintenance of the single bedroom rules is not a fair or proportionate response to the discrimination which has been established in cases of the present type, and that the defence of justification therefore fails.”

The Court of Appeal as ruling on three cases sponsored by the charity Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) against three local councils and the Department of Work & pensions (DWP).

In two cases, the renters were disabled and needed round-the-clock help for carers who worked shifts in their homes.

In the other, the family had two disabled daughters who could not share a room because of the their conditions.

Alison Garnham, the CPAG chief executive, said: “We welcome the fact that the court has recognised the unfairness of the housing benefit rules. This is a tremendous victory for the rights of disabled people and their children.

“In this case it was clearly not possible for two children, one with Spina Bifida and another with Down Syndrome, to share a single bedroom with such different demands and needs. It’s absolutely right that the housing benefit system should respond to challenges like this, and it is clear discrimination if it does not.

“Disabled people and their families and carers are being assaulted by a series of unjust and arbitrary cuts. This ruling goes some way to mitigating the effects of the cuts, but children and adults are still being made the unfair target of the Coalition’s austerity agenda.”

The ruling means buy to let renters can apply for extra housing benefit if they can show they need an additional bedroom.

The government has already amended the rules for tenants with a live-in carer who has a home elsewhere.

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Jonathan Clarke

7:14 AM, 17th May 2012, About 12 years ago

This is good news. I have a family with a child showing signs of ADHD and /or another sort of behavioral / personality disorder. It manifests itself in anger outbursts and a refusal to comply with parental instructions or other authoritative figures. A lock has to be placed on doors in the house  to prevent him harming others and potentially himself in areas like the kitchen and bathroom areas. His destructive behaviour is over and above the normal parameters of a child of his age.  These conditions are hard enough to diagnose in the first place. It has a massive destructive effect on the family. the solution is not easy but a separate bedroom would at least allow management of the problem to be more effective.
Despite lukewarm support from health workers and social services we have not manage to secure a separate bedroom allowance for the 6yr old who is forced to share with his brother. Both brothers are disadvantaged in their ongoing development. A common sense approach is needed.  This ruling may help. If not then this will go on until one hits 16yrs  which is 10 yrs away!  That is unacceptable. The writing is on the wall ( literally in this case)! 
I have tried to garner the relevant professional bodies together to address the issues. Social services / health workers / housing benefits/ EHO / family doctor / police. I have failed. I havent had even the courtesy of a reply from some  of them    This results for me is damage over and above the norm to doors, walls  and  decorations. They live i a 4 bed but are only entitled to a 3. the tenant was going to make up the difference but hasnt. Another child has been born now but this doesnt affect the room entitlement. The problems are getting worse. I have to consider eviction. 
 The family is dysfunctional anyway and social services and the police have been involved on several occasions. It is everyone`s interests to work in partnership to resolve the multifaceted and multirisk problems which present themselves to enable them to stay there. I will raise the matter again in light of this ruling but i expect to be stonewalled as on previous occasions. I just hope for the families sake a harmful incident does not happen which then retrospectively leads to an enquiry as to what went wrong. The danger signs are there already but no professional body will take a lead on it. I live in hope they will one day!

12:29 PM, 17th May 2012, About 12 years ago

Your tenants clearly are not showing any responsibility re procreation.
They are storing up further problems for you in the future.
Would you really wish to retain them as tenants.
I am sure you could easily source better tenants.
Unless you can afford to be philanthropic should you really be wasting your valuable time on these wrongun's.
I am sure you will be able to source a less dysfunctional family.
I think this one has caught you out.
You don't normally get caught out;  but this one has ocurred after the fact.
Therefore your normal initial DD has to be exercised after they have been long standing tenants.
I would readvertise the property and see what response you might obtain and then you may well consider evicting them.
At the end of the day it is nothing personal, just buisness.
You are not a social service.

Jonathan Clarke

21:46 PM, 17th May 2012, About 12 years ago

An interesting take on it  Paul.....On going minor philanthropic acts  are perhaps a theme that does run through my management style.  Behind it though at its core is a solid business plan   which allows me to be more flexible and supportive with families such as these. I  make substantial financial gains by immersing myself in this market.  Its a complex interactive system and style I use that some do not understand. It has its merits though and has positive benefits for all financially and socially. 
Yes  I am a social service in that  I provide homes for the a whole range of socially disadvantage people who others would not entertain. This is my forte and a niche which works for me. 95% of the time it goes well and I allow for the inevitable 5% of the time when it comes up short.  Some tenancies are much more time intensive than others and this is one of them.  And because my strategy is  successful I can afford to take a long term view with this family unit. Its hard to explain my strategy in depth here but financially for me and socially for them it is best for them to stay at my property.   This family wont be going anywhere soon. They will be helped.   

14:26 PM, 18th May 2012, About 12 years ago

I think your strategy you utilise is one to be admired.
Not many LL would choose your methodology  in dealing with 'difficult' tenants.
You clearly have an adaptable niche market which you are prepared to be involved in.
I think it is very much a case of each to their own.
Actively seeking and dealing with problem tenants is certainly a market you won't be facing much competition in from other LL!!!
There will be continuing increasing amounts of tenants unable to source tenancies due to their dysfunctional nature.
Targeting such dysfunctional tenants is it seems a valid business methodology for you.
All power to you.
For myself I choose not to involve myself with such tenants;  if I can avoid it!!?
Clearly  you have processes in place to manage this market segment then your business decision to involve yourself with these tenant types cannot in anyway be considered inappropriate .
Infact quite astute!!
It is fortunate for these dysfunctional tenants that there are LL like you prepared to be involved with them.
But rather you than me.
I have enough trouble with supposed 'normal' tenants!!!? .

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