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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 EU and EEA nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

New allocations and homelessness eligibility rules in England

New rules take effect on May 7. Full details will appear on the website soon. In the meantime for people in England covered by EU rights to reside, including ‘Zambrano carers’ who already have settled or pre settled status, new regulations are coming into force on that date.  If you are thinking of applying as homeless or to go on to the housing register, it would be a very good idea to do that before then as there are rules protecting those who make applications before the new regulations come into force. Rules about claiming universal credit or housing benefit are unaffected.

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.  Solicitors and 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 successfully challenged in court

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants made a successful challenge to the 'right to rent' - the requirement on landlords to check immigration documents - on the grounds that it is discrinimatory. The right to rent continues in force for the time being, and the Home Office will appeal the judgement, but if it is upheld it will have to amend or withdraw the right to rent so as to comply with human rights legislation. In the meantime, the scheme cannot be extended to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In response to the court case, the Home Office has changed its guidance. It is likely that more than this will be required if the court's ruling stands when the Home Office appeals. In April it also gave advice to landlords on dealing with applications from longstanding residents (such as the Windrush cases).

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

A new act of parliament 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 March 20. Official guidance has been published on the new requirement.

‘No recourse to public funds’ households – new duty to refer to a housing authority 

On 1 October 2018, it became a legal requirement for social services in England to make a direct referral to a housing authority for assistance under the Housing Act 1996 when a person they are supporting is homeless or is threatened with homelessness within 56 days. The new duty to refer is set out in the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, with information about implementing it included in the Homelessness code of guidance​ and the guide to the duty to refer

The duty applies when a family or person with NRPF has been provided with accommodation​under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, or the Care Act 2014, and becomes eligible for homelessness assistance. This may happen when they are granted leave to remain with recourse to public funds, or when an EEA national starts working and establishes a right to reside. At that point, the social worker or NRPF caseworker will usually issue the person with a notice that their temporary accommodation is due to end and must also make a direct referral to a housing authority. 

More details can be found on the NRPF Network website.

Refugee children granted ‘Calais leave’

This is a new form of permission to remain in the UK for children resettled from the Calais refugee camp in 2016-17 who would not otherwise qualify for asylum. Changes have been made to the pages on refugees and the consolidated regulations (pdf) relating to allocations and homelessness available on the website is updated from November.

Changes to help the 'Windrush generation'

Changes have been made by both the Home Office and DWP to help migrants who have been in the UK for many years to prove their status and their 'right to rent,' and to claim housing benefit.

On the right to rent, landlords are now told that:

“If a prospective tenant has lived in the UK permanently since before 1973 and has not been away for long periods in the last 30 years, they have the right to be here and to rent property.

“If a prospective tenant came to the UK after 1 January 1973 then they might not have the automatic right to be here, but they may be allowed to stay here permanently and will have the right to rent property.”

They are then referred to the Home Office checking service and the applicants are asked to get in touch with the Home Office’s dedicated unit. This should help people to resolve their cases although they may still experience problems if landlords are unwilling to do the further checks because they want to let the tenancy quickly.

On housing benefit, the DWP advises that:

“Should LAs identify… HB cases where the claimant is unable to evidence their immigration status to allow access to HB, but indicates they are from the ‘Windrush generation’, LAs are urged to apply extreme caution and refer the claimant, or their representative, to the Home Office dedicated taskforce team… to allow them to undertake necessary action.”

Local authorities should avoid delaying payments while awaiting Home Office guidance - they are the decision-makers (not the Home Office) and they have a duty to make a decision. They should also be willing to make a payment on account where the person has provided the evidence reasonably required.

Pages on private renting, destitution and other topics cover the changes in more detail.

Advice line for BME women and girls

ARHAG, the main sponsor of the housing rights website, has opened a free national benefits and housing advice line. It is available to all BME women or girls in the UK who require help or advice with a housing or benefit issue, such as universal credit, maximising benefits, support dealing with overpayments, and maximising benefits through grants and other options.

The advice line is open on Tuesdays between 10am and 3pm and can be reached at 0800 3890 405.


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.

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.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre – free legal information on topics relating to migrant and refugee children

Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s new website features a whole selection of new fact sheets and resources on subjects that relate to migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking children and young people. The fact sheets cover such topics as asylum, immigration, EU law, nationality, access to local authority support, education and healthcare, and more. Each legal fact sheet also comes with an introduction to the topic for non-legal professionals.

Homelessness among refugees

A briefing from the House of Commons library on the problems which refugees face.

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.

A hosting toolkit

Homeless Link, NACCOM and Housing Justice have produced a toolkit for those organising hosting schemes for destitute migrants.

Consolidated English and Welsh housing regulations

Unique to the website, the page on the law on housing eligibility contains links to consolidated versions of the English and Welsh regulations on eligibility for housing assistance according to immigration status.

Web-based tool to help destitute migrants

NRPF have launched a tool for local authorities and advisers, to help find out entitlements for different types of destitute migrant.


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 policyandpractice@cih.org with any suggestions, making clear your message refers to this website.

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