CHAC prevents eviction of vulnerable foreign national wrongly refused housing benefit
In 2017 Tabish, a 21 year old single man a national of Afghanistan, came to see CHAC. He had arrived in the UK aged 12 as an unaccompanied minor and the Home Office had granted him limited leave to remain until 8 December 2016. Tabish had virtually no reading or writing abilities. He was housed by Canterbury City Council on a non-secure tenancy under the homelessness legislation.
The Council applied to court for an outright eviction order on the basis that his rent arrears had reached just over £1,200. When a Council occupier is a non-secure tenant the court usually has virtually no choice but to make an outright eviction order. The Council had also refused his application for housing benefit and in fact decided that he had a recoverable overpayment of just over £1,100 of housing benefit due to the cancellation of his housing benefit the previous year.
Tabish’s Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance claim in early February 2017 had been refused by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This is what led to his housing benefit overpayment and the Council’s refusal to pay him housing benefit and led to his rent arrears. Following a Mandatory Reconsideration application to the DWP he was paid Jobseekers Allowance from February 2017, on the basis that he had applied to the Home Office before December 2016 to have his leave in the UK extended and the Home Office had not yet made a decision on this.
CHAC then helped Tabish to request a reconsideration of the Council’s housing benefit decisions on the basis that he was now receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance. This was successful and his housing benefit overpayment and rent arrears were cleared in full. CHAC also persuaded the Council to withdraw its application to Canterbury County Court to evict him, and consequently Tabish did not become homeless and he did not incur court costs of nearly £400.