About Romin Sutherland

Romin is the Project Manager of Z2K's NextDoor Project which helps people affected by the Housing Benefit cuts.

(Un)affordable Rent and the Bedroom Tax

landlord-eviction-rightsJane approached our service because her Housing Benefit had been stopped due to a now resolved problem with her Employment and Support Allowance.  Jane’s landlord, Network Stadium, had successfully gained a Possession Order against her, largely because she was not represented at the hearing (she was in less than 8 weeks rent arrears at the time of the hearing but the landlord was successful on discretionary grounds alone).

Jane was now threatened with homelessness and explained to me that she had moved from her 2 bedroom council property in October 2013 due to the Bedroom Tax.  Jane explained that in her previous council property the rent was £150 per week, but in her new “Affordable Rent” property it was £255 per week.  Jane’s security of tenure had also been reduced from a life-long assured tenancy to a new 5 year fixed term tenancy under the rules introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Continue reading

Fighting the benefit cap: a case study

Westminster city hallJane is a single mother who lives with her 21 year old autistic son, Harry.  Although Jane is Harry’s registered carer and he is in receipt of a range of disability benefits, because the housing benefit claim is in her name, Jane is nonetheless affected by the £500 per week benefit cap.

This has seen Jane’s housing benefit reduced by over £100 per week, which has jeopardised both of their accommodation.  We assisted Jane to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP), which was successful, but Westminster have made this conditional on her contributing £20 per week from Harry’s disability benefits.  We are currently helping Jane to challenge this by way of internal review, but are also looking into more permanent solutions. Continue reading

Successful Bedroom Tax Appeal

The NextDoor Project has now assisted a number of clients with housing benefit tribunal appeals against local authority decisions to apply the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap.  Although local authorities claim that they have no choice, particularly when it comes to the Benefit Cap, in actuality they remain the decision maker throughout.  This means that any decision to apply the Bedroom Tax or Benefit Cap is subject to the protections of a statutory appeal through the First Tier Social Security Tribunal, which is part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, and can overturn such decisions. Continue reading

Temporary accommodation, rent arrears & intentional homelessness: a case study

380_Image_child_povertyJackie, her husband and 5 young children were made homeless in 2009 when their private landlord decided to sell their house.  They approached Brent Council and were placed into temporary accommodation.  Between 2010 and 2013, Jackie’s husband took on part time work, which affected their entitlement to Housing Benefit.  With his wages changing each week, Jackie never knew exactly how much she was expected to contribute to their £400 per week rent.  Over the years Jackie’s rent account went up and down as different amounts of Housing Benefit were paid into her rent account.  For one brief period the household went up to 2 month’s rent arrears as a result of a Housing Benefit stoppage, but because Genesis Housing Association, her temporary accommodation provider, always seeks no-fault Possession Orders against all their temporary accommodation tenants, by the time the Housing Benefit was backdated and paid off the arrears, a Warrant of Eviction had already been served against Jackie. Continue reading

Case Study: the double impact LHA Caps & the Benefit Cap

 

Welfare Reform LogoLesley was affected by the Housing Benefit Caps in December 2012, and her landlord agreed to reduce her rent from £750 to £600 per week on the condition that she received a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) to cover the remaining shortfall.  Once the rent reduction had been negotiated, Westminster agreed to pay £260 on top of her £340 Housing Benefit from December 2012 to July 2013.  Lesley approached our service in June because she was very concerned about what would happen when the DHP expired, and also because she had been contacted by the DWP to advise her that she would be affected by the new £500 per week Benefit Cap soon.

Continue reading