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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 now that the UK has left the EU. Go the coronavirus page for the latest information and guidance during the current crisis.

Windrush review published

The government has published the report of the independent inquiry by Wendy Williams into the Windrush scandal. The Guardian, which broke the original story, analyses the report. The inquiry is very critical of the right to rent, and includes a lengthy assessment of how it developed, including the warnings issued by the CIH in its early stages.

New pages on common immigration terms

To help users of the site, we've created new pages for England and Wales and for Scotland, explaining common immigration terms such as 'public funds' and 'right of abode'. Please make use of the new pages and email with any suggestions.

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.

New page on applying for council housing in England and Wales

Our guidance to people applying for a housing allocation (or via the waiting list) has been updated.

Scotland removes the duty to assess homelessness cases for 'intentionality'

Local authorities currently have a duty to assess whether households presenting as homeless have made themselves 'intentionally' homeless through deliberate action or inaction. If found to be intentionally homeless, the local authority does not have to provide settled accommodation. 

Following consultation earlier this year, the Scottish Government introduced the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2019 on 10 October, which came into force from 7 November. It makes local authorities’ duty to assess for intentionality discretionary. Of course, the impact will depend on whether individual Scottish councils decide to make use of the new discretion they have.

The Scottish Government has also updated their Homelessness Code of Guidance, which had not been revised since 2005. The website will be updated with any relevant points from the new code.

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.

Alternative ways to contact Migrant Help

There are lengthy waiting times to get through to the Migrant Help telephone centre. As their peak times are from 10:30 to 16:00, callers are reminded that they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and can assist with queries whatever the time is. Alternatively, callers can use the following routes/ email addresses: For Issue Reporting and Advice and Guidance: there is a new section on the Service User Portal, which can be found under the Contact Us option (Email).

E: is to be used for all other communications relating to asylum support including supporting documents for support applications.

E: is for cases that need escalating to managers.

E: is for communications relating to asylum support applications that have been submitted to the Home Office.

E: is for applications (and requested evidence) relating to a request for S98 support applications.

E: is for requests for an outreach appointment.

Lastly, a webchat option is available to access by clicking on Contact us and Live chat on the Service User Portal.

[Thanks to the East of England Strategic Migration Partnership for this item.]

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.

ASAP has a briefing paper (recently updated) on how asylum seekers are affected by the right to rent rules.

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).

The Home Office appeal against the court's decision was heard in January 2020 but it will take several months for the verdict to be issued.

Free debt and money advice for young people

Youth Legal has a new free advice service for young people aged 18-30 and families with children. Phone them on 020 3195 1906.

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.

Updated guide for those advising Polish victims of domestic abuse

Vesta has an updated guide to the housing rights of Polish people who experience domestic abuse, produced by housing rights author Sue Lukes. Getting and paying for housing is available in both English and Polish.

Government 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, and another on rights and expectations. All three are available in various languages.

The DWP has issued a guide for refugees on applying for benefits during the 28-day period after which they have to leave asylum accommodation. It also briefly covers getting a bank account and finding housing.

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

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.

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

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Chartered Institute of Housing