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What's new? - recent updates to the site

This page summarises updates to the site and new publications relevant to migrants' housing rights. Go to the Brexit page for news on the rights of European nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

The housing rights website has been refreshed!

Most of the pages on the website have now been updated. If you spot any issues, please let us know by emailing - thanks!

Two topics now have their own dedicated pages - 'right to rent' checks by private landlords (in England) for migrants and for advisers, and council tax rebate schemes in England and Wales and Scotland. The pages on housing benefit and universal credit for England and Wales and for Scotland have new sections on appealing against decisions.

EU Settled Status and housing eligibility

The July newsletter featured an article from Praxis about a London borough trying to argue that people with EU Settled Status but no other qualifying right to reside were not eligible for housing assistance.  This is particularly relevant to those working with street homeless people who often have long gaps in work history but can show residence for five years and so apply for Settled Status.  The borough concerned says they are looking again at their decision in this case, and CIH have confirmed with MHCLG that the intention is to make people with Settled Status eligible, but the wording in some government announcements about Brexit has been confusing. CIH has issued a letter (pdf) giving its interpretation of the rules which may be useful to advisers.

Improved guidance for asylum seekers suffering domestic violence

The Home Office has issued new guidance which should ensure that asylum seekers in Home Office accommodation who suffer domestic violence get better assistance. One of the key features is a new mechanism enabling asylum seeking women at risk of abuse to access specialist refuge accommodation and associated support services. As well as the Home Office guidance (pdf), the Refugee Council - which called for the changes - has issued a two-page briefing.

The adviser pages on domestic abuse for England and Wales and for Scotland have been updated.

New allocations and homelessness eligibility rules in England and Wales

New rules in England took effect on May 7. They make clearer the eligibility of EU nationals for housing help and benefits. The changes are summarised on the Brexit page. New regulations for Wales took effect on 19 July 2019. 

The website again provides consolidated regulations on housing and benefits eligibility which have been updated with the new rules. See the pages on The law on housing eligibility for allocations and homelessness rules and on housing benefit regulations for pdfs with the new rules for England, Wales and Scotland.

New section on European family members with a permanent right to reside

We have expanded the sections on EEA family members in England and Wales and Scotland to describe how they acquire the permanent right to reside, depending how long they have been in the UK and the family member they have been with, including those now deceased.

Applications for leave to remain - possible complications

The Home Office has moved to an electronic system for some applications for leave to remain, run by a firm called Sopra Steria. Apparently the system no longer produces receipts or acknowledgement letters for applications to renew or amend leave.  Unfortunately the Home Office has failed to inform other departments of this so people applying for housing and/or benefits are being asked for receipts or acknowledgements that they cannot provide.  Advisers are raising this with the Home Office but meanwhile those administering housing and benefit applications need to find alternative ways of confirming that applications have been made.

Where a solicitor or OISC registered adviser is involved this could be confirmation from them that the application has been made / received.  Applicants themselves should be encouraged to take a screen grab of the online acknowledgement if they can.  Failing these, an enquiry to the Home Office can be made, with the HO reference number.  Authorities who have liaison arrangements with the Home Office local / national teams may want to point out the extra work this involves.

Right to rent - latest

Here are the new website pages on right to rent - for tenants and for advisers.

The government says in advice to landlords that there will be no change in the way EU nationals prove their 'right to rent' until 1 January 2021, whether or not the UK leaves the EU without a 'deal'. There is still no indication of the rules about right to rent for European nationals who arrive in the UK after that date, however.

The latest version of the government's short guide on right to rent was published on 2 August 2019. Its collection of guidance was updated in October to cover right to rent for citizens from certain non-EU countries who can enter the UK through 'eGates' at airports and have no passport stamps.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants made a successful challenge to the right to rent on the grounds that it is discriminatory. If the judgment is upheld on appeal the Home Office will have to amend or withdraw the right to rent. In the meantime, the scheme cannot be extended to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The Home Office has now changed its guidance and gave advice to landlords on applications from longstanding residents (such as the Windrush cases).

New Fitness for Human Habitation Act in rental homes comes into force

Legislation requiring homes to be fit for human habitation when a lease is granted, and remain fit for human habitation during the course of the tenancy, came into force on 20 March 2019. Official guidance has been published on the new requirement.

Recent publications

Below are recent publications for housing advisers which will be added to the site on the pages on 'What other organisations can help' or 'Other information for advisers', according to whether they are relevant to England or Scotland, or both.

Home Office publications for refugees and asylum seekers

The Home Office has published a welcome guide for refugees setting out their rights to housing and other services. There is also a guide for asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation, to help with problems that might arise. Both are available in various languages.

Challenging discrimination in private renting

A new guide produced for the Welsh Government but which applies more widely aims to reduce mistreatment and discrimination suffered by private tenants.

DWP benefits guidance for refugees

This guide explains benefit availability for refugees with different kinds of leave to remain.

Right to Remain Toolkit

The Right to Remain Toolkit is a guide to the UK immigration and asylum system with excellent, plain English explanations of how immigration law works, mainly aimed at people who want to establish or fight for their right to remain in the UK

Resettling refugees - Support after the first year

A guide from the LGA for local authorities, prepared by Migration Yorkshire.

Helping refugees making homelessness applications

The Refugee Council has prepared a guide to help anyone supporting refugees make homelessness applications to local authorities.

We welcome suggestions for updating the guidance on the Housing Rights website and for including links to relevant new sources of guidance or information.

Please email with any suggestions, making clear your message refers to this website.

Chartered Institute of Housing

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing