Desmond Rutledge explains how housing practitioners can use public law arguments to resolve housing benefit issues where a tenant’s home is under threat due to possession proceedings.
In an article published in this month’s Legal Action Group Magazine (July/August p 24), Desmond Rutledge considers the circumstances in which housing practitioners can use judicial review as a ‘remedy of last resort’ in order to resolve outstanding housing benefit issues where these are the sole cause of the rent arrears which have led to the landlord taking action to repossess the claimant’s home.
The article contains a list of ten examples where housing benefit decisions that can be challenged on public law grounds on the basis that the benefit authority has failed comply with the proper decision making procedures laid down in the regulations. The article gives the following example of a scenario where judicial review may be used as a remedy of last resort to resolve an outstanding housing benefit issue where possession proceedings are pending:
An ESA claimant is a tenant in the social sector. Payment of ESA stops due to a sanction. This results in the local authority suspending payment of housing benefit, which in turn leads to rent arrears and possession proceedings being issued. Despite the claimant providing a ‘nil income declaration’, payment of housing benefit is not restored. The housing department refuse to adjourn the possession hearing. An urgent claim for judicial review is issued with a request for interim relief in the form of an order that the defendant’s benefit section determine the claimant’s entitlement to housing benefit from the date the ESA sanction was imposed and also that the defendant’s housing department does not proceed with possession proceedings pending the decision on housing benefit.
The online version of Desmond’s article – The use of public law arguments to resolve housing benefit issues and possession proceedings – can be downloaded via Legal Action Group’s website at www.lag.org.uk.