Call for Right to Housing to be enshrined in the Constitution

“The right to housing in our constitution would be a positive, strong step for the future to create fundamental protection of home for every adult and every child”

On Thursday, 13th July 2017, Mercy Law Resource Centre was honoured to participate in ‘A Right to Housing’ seminar in Trinity College Dublin, in conjunction with Simon Communities of Ireland and Senator Collette Kelleher. The focus of the seminar was the urgent call for the right to housing to be enshrined in the Irish Constitution. The seminar brought together international and national homeless experts, academics, journalists, civil society organisations, trade unions, employers, and constitutional and legal experts. The panel of speakers included Niamh Randall (Simon Communities of Ireland), Kitty Holland (The Irish Times), Dr Rory Hearne (NUI Maynooth), Karan O’Loughlin (SIPTU), Maeve Regan (Mercy Law Resource Centre), Professor Gerard Whyte (Trinity College Dublin), and Adrian Berry (Barrister, UK).

Each speaker, whilst discussing their area of expertise, outlined how important it is to have the right to housing included in the Irish Constitution and mapped out certain ways to achieve this. As each speaker took the podium the current homelessness crisis was highlighted by not only the rapidly increasing figures of homeless people in Ireland but also by harrowing stories of the experience of homelessness told by Kitty Holland, such as a mother forced to make her children’s lunches in the front seat of a car while her three children slept in the back seat.

Another item that was hugely emphasised was the legal and political struggles faced every day by individuals and organisations when attempting to resolve the crisis. As Maeve Regan noted, a legal argument cannot rely on a person’s right to adequate housing, rather their battle must rely on other rights such as the right to privacy, the right to family life, or right to bodily integrity. This makes it extremely hard for a person’s battle for housing to be legally successful.

“A right to housing in the Constitution would mean that the courts could look at the State decision or policy as to whether it was ‘proportionate’ by reference to the right. It would mean that Government and State policies and actions would have to respect the right. Legislation and policy would have to be ‘proofed’ to ensure they reasonably protect the right to housing. It would mean that the policies in relation to housing and homelessness could not be on a political whim but would have this grounding, this obligation to respect the right to housing. It would be an enduring protection.”

Karan O’Loughlin highlighted one of the main issues contributing to the crisis by comparing the national average rent per month with the minimum monthly wage. The national average rent is €1131 and the minimum monthly wage when working 30 hours a week is €1110, meaning that after a person has paid rent they are left with 21 euro for the month. With a Constitutional right to housing, there may be scope to challenge the unsustainable rent increases; the current legal framework however provides little scope to bring such a challenge.

Overall, the event marked the beginning of an alliance of people from a multitude of backgrounds, all with the common goal of establishing a basic floor of protection which would require the State to consider the right to housing and balance it with other rights when formulating policy and law. This would not mean a key to a house for all but rather it would be the first step in abolishing the crisis that currently exists in Ireland.

 

 

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Equality Rights Alliance Seminar

On Friday June 30th Mercy Law were delighted to attend the Equality and Rights Alliance’s (ERA) seminar ‘A New Roadmap for our Equality and Human Rights Infrastructure’. The seminar provided ERA’s members an opportunity to come together and examine the progress of the law in Ireland since the publication of ERA’s Roadmap to a Strengthened Equality and Human Rights Infrastructure in 2011. Speakers on the day included Eilis Barry, CEO of FLAC; Niall Crowley, ERA Chair and Damien Walshe, ERA Coordinator.

Among the issues discussed was the public sector duty introduced by s. 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. This section places a positive duty on public sector bodies to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and treatment and protect human rights. To give effect to this duty, a public body is required to set out in its strategic plan:

  1. An assessment of human rights and equality issues relevant to the functions and purpose of that body
  2. Any policies, plans or actions to address those issues.

The public body must then report on its developments and achievements in that regard in its annual report. All of this information must be accessible to the public.

Niall Crowley, ERA Chair, addressed the seminar on developing a values-based approach to the public sector duty. This involves inviting a public body to develop a statement on their values and identify aims and objectives flowing from those values. Niall noted that public bodies have an appetite to define their values but there is still a challenge in ensuring systems are developed to give reality to them. There was debate over the value of having public bodies define their values if in practice they are not acting in a way that respects human rights and equality. However, all were in agreement that the principle of placing a positive duty on public bodies is valuable and work should be done to identify the full and precise extent of this duty.

Overall, the event highlighted the need for a commitment to equality and human rights from the government. This would include an increase in resourcing for these sectors, and utilising the budget to achieve economic and social equality. The event unfortunately marked a pause in ERA’s work due to funding cuts. Without a dedicated organisation to fight for equality in Ireland, there is an even greater burden on other civil society organisations to put equality at the forefront of their work and fill the gap left by ERA. To view the work achieved by ERA to date and all of their publications, you can visit their website here.

 

 

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MLRC training in social welfare law, delivered by Professor Gerry Whyte, Associate Professor, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin – July 2017

In July, Professor Gerry Whyte, Associate Professor, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, and Director on the MLRC Board of Directors, will deliver a comprehensive training course on social welfare law.  The course will provide a detailed overview of social welfare law. The purpose of the course is to provide participants with an up to date comprehensive review of social welfare law, to help them in their advocacy and work for their clients in respect of social welfare law issues.

The topics covered in the course will include:

  • Sources of social welfare law
  • Claims and appeals
  • Social Insurance
  • Social Assistance
  • Rates of payment
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Unemployment and low pay
  • Illness, incapacity and caring
  • Family payments
  • The elderly and survivors

Venue:

MLRC, 25 Cork Street, Dublin 8

Course dates and times:

The workshops will be held over three weeks in July.  Participants would be expected to attend all five workshops to receive maximum benefit from the training. The training schedule is:

  • Tuesday 4 July 2017: 9.45am to 1pm
  • Thursday 6 July 2017: 9.45am to1pm
  • Tuesday 11 July 2017: 9.45am to 12 noon
  • Thursday 13 July 2017: 1.45pm to 4pm
  • Tuesday 18 July 2017: 9.45am to 12 noon

 

Among the feedback from participants who attended this course last year:

“The training sessions were excellent in content, presentation and venue. Thank you. And great value for money.”

“’Well pitched.  Gerry was excellent but also got great insight from the comments and questions of other course participants.”

“Very clear, structured and concise notes – really useful for further reference.”

“Found it very useful, will be using it in my day-to-day work.”

All participants noted it would make a large difference and improvement to the way they do their job. 

How to book a place on this course:

The cost per participant is €60 for all five workshops.

The spaces for this training are limited so please do book early if you wish to attend.  If you are interested in booking a place(s) for this social welfare law training please contact Danielle Curtis, MLRC Administrator, at Mercy Law Resource Centre on 01 4537459 or by email info@mercylaw.ie by 5pm on Thursday 29 June.

We would be very happy to hear from you!

 

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MLRC delivers training on housing to staff of Dundalk and Drogheda CICs

As part of MLRC’s work, we provide training in housing law to organisations and individuals working in the field of homelessness. In April, MLRC held a training session in housing law for the staff of Dundalk and Drogheda CICs.

Our training session gave practical advice and information, which will help attendees deal even more effectively with clients’ housing issues, both directly themselves and in referring to MLRC as is useful for them.

The training session focused in particular on giving an overview of housing law and the law relating to homelessness and common legal issues arising with accessing legal entitlements in relation to housing; the law regarding the Housing Assistance Payment; the procedure for evictions from local authority housing, as well as information on how to access information under the Freedom of Information Act.

In their feedback, attendees described the session as:

“It was excellent, inclusive and interesting – excellent use of materials”;

It was very enjoyable, especially the case studies“;

“Very well delivered in an understanding manner”;

“Trainer very knowledgeable and open to questions. Good use of case studies”;

Attendees also gave feedback t they found the handouts were excellent with very informative and relevant content which will be a useful resource in carrying out their day to day work.  A number of those at the training said that the training session will make a tremendous difference in their work, particularly the training on the use of FOI requests; the clarity given on the Housing Assistance Payment, the rules or legislation around social housing and how these should operate, and useful strategies and practical steps to follow to support/advocate for clients with housing issues.

If you are interested in organising a training session by MLRC, please contact Danielle on 01 4537459 or at danielle@mercylaw.ie. We would be very happy to hear from you and discuss the training that would be most useful for you.

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Launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s Annual Report 2016

In May, Mercy Law Resource Centre was delighted to attend the launch of the Ombudsman for Children’s 2016 Annual Report. We would like to extend our congratulations to the office of the Ombudsman for producing such a detailed and comprehensive report.

In 2016 the Ombudsman saw an increase in the number of housing complaints received. Concerns relating to housing and accommodation accounted for 5% of these complaints. However, the Ombudsman believes that the proportion is far higher in reality, referencing Ireland’s 2,000 homeless children.    Access to suitable housing accounted for 78% of these complaints. Two of the principal issues which arose in this context related to suitable housing for children with disabilities and homelessness. 10% of complaints related to traveller accommodation and 9% related to neighbourhood suitability and anti-social concerns.  Key concerns which repeatedly arose included the administration of prioritisation schemes, the adaptation of housing for children with disabilities and transparency in decision making and communication.

The Ombudsman has been proactive in advocating that children be considered and planned for in the process of formulating housing policy and legislation. Notably, the office raised these concerns with the Department of Housing, Community, Planning and Local Government during the drafting of the Rebuilding Ireland Plan 2017. MLRC welcomes the Ombudsman’s commitment to further pursue this area in 2017. The importance of advocating for change in homeless policy is crucial to achieve lasting change in the prevention and reduction of homelessness in Ireland.

The following two cases which the Ombudsman was involved in this past year from our experience exemplify the problems which many families across Ireland are facing:

Sophie: Availability of housing for a child with disabilities

Sophie, aged 10 years, has a number of medical issues which affect her mobility. Her family were granted priority transfer on medical grounds, however, there had been no change in their position since 2014. The family were negatively impacted by anti-social behaviour in the area and Sophie was fearful and anxious as a result.

The Ombudsman contacted the local authority and established that while the family were high priority on the housing list there was no accommodation suitable for Sophie’s needs available or immediately forthcoming. The Ombudsman requested that a safe temporary transfer be arranged for Sophie until a more permanent fixture could established, in order to diminish any further adverse impact on Sophie’s health.

A temporary home was identified by the local authority within five weeks which was suitable for Sophie’s needs and was close to her extended family and school. Furthermore, the local authority has identified a permanent, specifically adapted house that will be available for the family in 2017.

Sarah: Impact of Rising Rents and Resulting Homelessness

Sarah, aged 7, has hydrocephalus and other medical needs. Her family became homeless following the sale of their private rented accommodation. The family advised the local authority of their impending homelessness but were informed that they would be unable to avail of any homeless services until the presented as homeless. They were advised of the supports available to them to help maintain their tenancy but were unable to do so. When the family presented to the Ombudsman they had been living in homeless accommodation for a number of months and had spent several nights in their car when it was not possible to source accommodation.

The Ombudsman contacted the local authorities and raised concerns about the length of time a child on both the medical priority list and the homeless waiting list was spending in hotel accommodation and the effect that this was having on the health and education of the child. During the investigation of the case an appropriate property was offered to Sarah and her family.

MLRC welcomes the annual report and looks forward to working with the Ombudsman for Children in the coming months on the pressing issue of children in homelessness.

 

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MLRC is recruiting a locum solicitor to join the MLRC team

MLRC is now recruiting a Locum Solicitor.

This is a unique opportunity to practice in public interest and human rights law to help those at the margins of our society within a vibrant, dynamic independent law centre, with an ethos which recognises the dignity of each person, seeking to ensure that all people are treated with respect and compassion and are enabled to achieve their full potential as human beings, committed to the principles of human rights, social justice and equality.

The Locum Solicitor position will be offered as a fixed purpose six month contract, covering a period of maternity leave. The position is full-time with immediate start.  The salary offered with this position is commensurate with experience.

For full details of the role and how to apply, please click here

To download the application form, please click here

Please send completed application (cover letter, CV and application form) as one attachment  to danielle@mercylaw.ie.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm on Friday 23 June 2017.

 

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The ‘self accommodation option’ of emergency accommodation is failing vulnerable homeless families

We have recently been working on several cases where families have been recognised as homeless by the housing authority and have been put on the ‘self-accommodation option’, which means they are obliged to source their own hotel accommodation to meet their emergency accommodation needs. For vulnerable families, they are frequently unable to source such accommodation and are left at ongoing risk of rough sleeping and subjected to chronic instability and insecurity that is having wide-ranging and negative impacts on the families, including young children.

Over the course of the last year, we have advocated for several families initially refused emergency accommodation by their housing authority and have successfully had them recognised as homeless. See our previous blog on these cases. Once recognised as homeless, the housing authority provides emergency accommodation pursuant to Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.

Section 10 allows broad flexibility for the manner in which that emergency accommodation is provided. Over the last six months, there has been a move away from housing authorities booking homeless families directly into hotel accommodation; rather families are being told to source their own accommodation on the basis that the Council will pay for it, once sourced. This is called the ‘self-accommodation option’.

We are advising several families who are particularly large, are members of the Travelling Community, or are non-nationals with imperfect English. Our experience is that these families are simply unable at present to source hotel accommodation to accommodate their families or are only able to source is on a very haphazard night to night basis at various locations across greater Dublin area.

The impact of the absence of accommodation and/or chronic instability in accommodation on these families is in many cases dire. It is often impossible for parents to get their children to school. In one case we are acting in, the children have attended school just twenty percent of the school year so far; the children are stated to be presenting as withdrawn and unable to engage in classes, due to their excessive absences. We have seen a deterioration in mental and physical health, as families sleep in cars for prolonged periods. We have seen sustained separation of young children from their parents, as the parents are obliged to accommodate their children with extended family members to avoid having to sleep in the car with them. We are seeing families getting into debt while they try and meet their daily expenses which are heightened during periods of chronic instability.

In one case, we have resorted to litigation to challenge the manner in which the Council is providing emergency accommodation to one such vulnerable family. We have argued that the Council has a duty to perform its functions under section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 in a rational and reasonable manner and to provide accommodation to persons defined as homeless in the Act of 1988, which it is failing to do in this case. We contend that the Council has failed to vindicate the rights of the family in the exercise of its statutory powers pursuant to the 1988 Act. We have argued that the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution can, in certain circumstances, place positive obligations on State bodies exercising statutory and also cite the protections of the European Convention on Human Rights. We have also highlighted the failure of the Council to vindicate the rights of the young children who are affected.

 

It is clear that the current system of ‘self accommodation’ is failing these vulnerable families yet we have seen no recognition by housing authorities of the very negative impact of obliging vulnerable families to source their own accommodation or evidence of a change of approach. We would welcome a process at the point of being recognised as homeless, that identifies the specific needs of homeless families and ensures that a suitable accommodation option is provided at the outset, thus reducing the overall negative impact of homelessness on each family.

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Suitability of Emergency Accommodation

Securing suitable emergency accommodation for pregnant mother and her family

MLRC recently worked with a family who had been placed in unsuitable emergency accommodation, which, according to medical reports, presented a risk to our client’s unborn child. After MLRC made several representations on behalf of the family to the Council, they were moved into suitable emergency accommodation.

Background

We had initially worked with this family to help them access emergency accommodation. The Council had refused them this accommodation, The family, a mother and her two young children, were initially made homeless in March 2016 following a family dispute. The Council did not accept that the family could not continue to live with extended family members and refused to recognise the family as homeless and provide emergency accommodation. For the period March 2016 through to December 2016, the family relied on the goodwill of friends and family, moving frequently and often staying in highly unsuitable accommodation.

Focus Ireland referred the family to our legal clinic in late November 2016 and we then advocated on their behalf, arguing the family was homeless within the terms of s 2 of the Housing Act 1988. It took some weeks to resolve this issue with the Council and, in the absence of any response from the Council, we had instructed Counsel with a view to bringing High Court litigation. However just before Christmas, the Council accepted that the family were indeed homeless and put them on the self-accommodation option. This meant that the family had to source their own emergency accommodation and were only able to secure a booking in a B&B, located some distance from the children’s school.

Serious difficulties quickly arose with the suitability of the B&B accommodation as it did not meet the needs of our client who was pregnant. Our client, a diabetic, was admitted to a maternity hospital in January 2017 with high blood sugar levels that presented a risk to her and her unborn child. The hospital wrote to the Council directly, highlighting the particular needs of this pregnant mother, confirming the unsuitability of B&B accommodation and the need for stable accommodation where the mother could cook for herself and her family and therefore manage her blood sugar levels effectively.

MLRC’s representations

MLRC also wrote to the Council stating that B&B accommodation was documented to be unsuitable and presented a risk to the health of the mother and her unborn child. We also referred to the negative effect on the family in terms of their family life, their diet, their well-being, and the financial impact. We relied on several medical reports that had been provided and a report from the hospital social worker. We argued that the Council is obliged to comply with its duties under relevant housing legislation and that such provisions must be interpreted in a manner compatible with the Constitution and with the European Convention of Human Rights.

We contended that the Council, in providing emergency accommodation that did not meet the family’s needs, breached and/or disproportionately interfered with the constitutional and fundamental rights of the family members, including the unborn child, particularly with respect to their right to privacy and family life and their personal rights.

Fortunately, we received a positive response from the Council shortly afterwards. The family was immediately moved to alternative temporary accommodation operated by the approved housing association Respond. This accommodation is family-friendly, and has cooking and laundry facilities together with space for the children to do their homework and play. The location was also significantly better for accessing the children’s schools.

Conclusion

The outcome in this case was positive for this family but it is of concern that such an outcome was only secured after extensive engagement by MLRF and the medical team at the maternity hospital  with the Council. It is hoped that in future cases, the needs of particular families can be recognised at an earlier stage and an assessment completed determining what would be suitable temporary accommodation to meet those needs so that such accommodation can be provided at the outset.

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MLRC delivers training on advanced housing law

As part of MLRC’s work, we provide training in housing law to organisations and individuals working in the field of homelessness. In January, MLRC held a training session in advanced housing law for staff of Crosscare.

Our training session gave practical advice and information, with a focus on:

  • An overview of housing law and the law relating to homelessness, including relevant fair procedures principles
  • Overcoming specific barriers to getting on the housing list – including the local connection test; ownership of property; and requests for evidence proving non-ownership of property
  • The application of the law regarding non-nationals accessing the housing list and/or emergency accommodation

The aim of the session was to help attendees deal even more effectively with clients’ housing issues, both directly themselves and in referring to MLRC as is useful for them. In their feedback, attendees noted that the training session will make a large difference in their work, and described the session as “excellent and very useful”, and in particular that the session shed useful light on issues including:

homeless assessment and how it differs from housing list assessment, how judicial review works”,

clarification on the eligibility of non-EEA nationals to access housing list/emergency accommodation…[and] European Convention on Human Rights relevance to applications

Information regarding the Ombudsman [and] European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 [prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment]”, and “housing circulars”.

If you are interested in organising a training session by MLRC, please contact Danielle on 01 4537459 or at danielle@mercylaw.ie. We would be very happy to hear from you and discuss the training that would be most useful for you.

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Conference – Making Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Meaningful, Wednesday, 29 March 2017, Mansion House, Dublin

Mercy Law Resource Centre is a member of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Initiative (ESCRI). ESCRI is a coalition of over 60 civil society organisations that support strengthening the protection of economic, social and cultural rights in the Irish Constitution. On 29 March, ESCRI is holding a conference on economic, social and cultural rights (ESC rights). ESC rights include the right to housing.   This event will bring together a range of speakers to discuss the impact that enforceable ESC rights would have for people in Ireland. The presentations and discussions will draw on experiences from other European States where ESC rights have been given legal protection.

The details of the conference are:

What: Conference – Making Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Meaningful

When: 10.30 am to 3:30pm, Wednesday 29 March 2017.

Where: Oak Room, Mansion House, Dawson St., Dublin 2.

Keynote address: Jamie Burton – Public Lawyer, Doughty Street Chambers, London. Jamie Burton is a public lawyer with expertise in judicial review and human rights.  He acts for claimants and defendants and regularly advises public authorities on their policies and procedures in relation to their statutory and human rights obligations.  Mr Burton is also Chair and co-founder of ‘Just Fair’, a registered charity that works exclusively on human rights issues, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. He is also a member of the Expert Panel of ‘Housing Rights Watch’ – a pan-European think-tank that works on housing and homelessness rights across Europe.  It has brought collective complaints to the Council of Europe against France, Netherlands and Ireland.

Contributors:

  • Helen Johnston – National Economic and Social Council
  • Professor Colin Harvey – Queen’s University
  • Professor Gerry Whyte – Trinity College Dublin
  • Siobhan Curran – Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre
  • Eoin Carroll – Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice
  • Dr Austin O’Carroll
  • Debbie Mulhall – Dolphin House Community Development Association and founding member of Rialto Rights in Action
  • Dr Mary Murphy – Maynooth University and Member of IHREC
  • Eilis Barry – FLAC
  • Dr Padraic McKenna – NUI Galway
  • Michael Farrell

 

Places are limited for the conference and so for more information on the conference and how to register, please click here.

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Changes to the law relating to termination of Approved Housing Bodies tenancies – potentially very harsh effect on tenants

On 7 April 2016, Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), often known as voluntary housing associations, were brought under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).  Part 2 of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 (the Act) provided for this change.  The change came into effect on 7 April 2016 (by S.I. 151 of 2016). As of April 2016 there are over 500 Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland with a stock size of over 30,000 units.

This change in the law means that:

  • Approved Housing Bodies must now register their tenancies with the RTB.
  • Approved Housing Bodies now have the same rights and obligations as private landlords, with some exceptions.
  • Approved Housing Bodies’ tenants now have the same rights and obligations as private tenants, with some exceptions.

 

Over recent months, we have met with several tenants in voluntary housing who have been adversely affected by this change and through these meetings we have identified various preliminary issues and serious concerns that this change raises.

Tenants entitled to notice based on the date of the commencement of the Act – not the date of occupation – may negatively affect tenants’ security of tenure

A tenant of an AHB, like a private tenant, gains “Part IV tenant rights” when they are in a tenancy for longer than six months. This means that once a tenant remains in the tenancy for over six months they gain an automatic security to remain in that tenancy for a minimum of four years. The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 extends the period of a Part 4 tenancy from four years to six years. This applies to all tenancies created from 24 December 2016, the day after the signing of the Act.

The tenancy, after the first six months of the Part 4 tenancy, can only be terminated on certain grounds (contained in s 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004).  Those grounds include:

  • The tenant has failed to comply with their obligations.
  • The landlord intends to sell the dwelling within the next 3 months.
  • The dwelling is no longer suited to the needs of the occupying household.
  • The landlord requires the dwelling for own or family member occupation.
  • Substantial refurbishment of the dwelling.
  • Change in the use of the dwelling.

 

In private rented tenancies the length of the tenancy starts from the date of occupation. However for Approved Housing Bodies’ tenants, under the Act, the date of occupation is the date of commencement of the Act (7 April 2016), or the date that the tenant moved in, whichever is the later.

 

This negatively affects the tenants’ security of tenure. Even if the tenant has been in occupation for, for example, 40 years before 7 April 2016, the tenancy is taken to start on 7 April 2016.  No matter how long the tenant’s tenancy actually was before 7 April 2016, or the purposes of how much notice of termination must be given, the length of tenancy is counted from 7 April 2016.  The major effect that this has is on the amount of notice that the tenant must be given of termination of the tenancy.  The length of tenancy of the AHB tenant is only counted from 7 April 2016, or the date the tenant moved in, whichever is later.

 

The following are the notice periods which must be given.

 

Length of tenancy Notice that the landlord must give  
Less than 6 months 4 weeks (28 days)
6 months or longer but less than 1 year 5 weeks (35 days)
1 year or longer but less than 2 years 6 weeks (42 days)
2 years or longer but less than 3 years 8 weeks (56 days)
3 years or longer but less than 4 years 12 weeks (84 days)
4 years or longer but less than 5 years 16 weeks (112 days)
5 years or longer but less than 6 years 20 weeks (140 days)
6 years or longer but less than 7 years 24 weeks (168 days)
7 years or longer but less than 8 years 28 weeks (196 days)
8 years or longer 32 weeks (224 days)

 

Length of tenancy Required period of notice by tenant
Less than 6 months 4 weeks (28 days)
6 months or longer but less than 1 year 5 weeks (35 days)
1 year or longer but less than 2 years 6 weeks (42 days)
2 years or longer but less than 4 years 8 weeks (56 days)
4 years or longer but less than 8 years 12 weeks (84 days)
8 years or longer 16 weeks (112 days)

 

MLRC cases on termination of AHB tenancies

We have legally represented four tenants before the RTB Tribunal on this issue. The tenants of the AHBs had been issued with 28 days’ notice of termination with no reason given.  The clients had challenged the validity of the Notice of Termination before the RTB. The RTB’s determination was that the Notice was valid.  The RTB so held, even in circumstances where the tenant had been living in their home for ten years or more.  MLRC appealed these determinations to the RTB Tribunal and we are awaiting their decision.

 

Case example

Mary has lived in her AHB home with her two children since 1 January 2006.  Under the new legislation, on 1 September 2016, the AHB served on her a 28 day Notice of Termination, without a reason, requiring that she and her family leave her home on the 29 September 2016.  The short notice period of 28 days was because, as noted above, the date of occupancy flows from the commencement of the Act, 7 April 2016, and not from the date of actual occupation, 1 January 2001.  If Mary was in private rented accommodation the tenancy period would flow from the date of occupation, 1 January 2006, which would result in Mary having to receive a 32 weeks (224 days) notice and, as she would be past the first six months of the Part 4 tenancy cycle, one of the six reasons as outlined above for a valid Notice to quit to be issued.

 

The RTB adjudication determined that the Notice was valid.  This was appealed to the RTB Tribunal. Submissions were made to the Tribunal on a number of legal issues in respect of the Notice of Termination. Foremost of these were on the rights of the mother and her children to an independent, proportionate decision on the interference with their right privacy and family life under Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We submitted that this requirement applies both to the AHB and to the RTB. We are awaiting a decision from the RTB Tribunal in this matter.

 

MLRC submission

The Government, as is made clear in Rebuilding Ireland, in addressing the crisis in housing and homelessness, intends to grow the involvement of AHBs in the provision of social housing (at page 53 of the report):

“The Housing Policy Statement 2011 and the Social Housing Strategy 2020 recognise the key

contribution that AHBs have to make to the delivery of housing supports in Ireland, building

on their track record in terms of both housing provision and management. The AHB sector

has evolved in a short timeframe from the traditional grant-funded model to greater use of a

loan finance approach, reflecting the prevailing arrangements in other jurisdictions. Working with the Housing Finance Agency, 15 AHBs with certified borrower status are currently progressing projects across the country. This is a significant contribution and the Government

remains committed to enabling the sector to play a central role in the effort to meet social

housing needs….”

We respectfully note that in providing that the date of commencement of AHB tenancies for the purpose of notice of termination as being the date of commencement of the Act, 7 April 2016, is an important defect in the legislation.  It has a particularly harsh effect as many AHB tenants have particular vulnerabilities and mental health issues and facing homelessness with shortened notice is clearly a highly distressing situation.

We respectfully propose that the legislation be amended to provide that AHB tenants’ date of occupation is the date of actual occupation.  In this way, AHB tenants would be accorded the same rights as private tenants on this point.

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Our Casework in 2016 – A Year in Review

We had an exceptionally busy year in 2016 and during the year saw a very big increase in the number of people contacting us for advice and also an increase in High Court litigation brought on behalf of our clients.

Cases on unlawful refusal by housing authorities to provide emergency accommodation

One particularly common and acute issue that came up was the refusal by housing authorities to provide emergency accommodation to families and individuals who are homeless.  We litigated on two cases on this issue last year and were successful in both of them. This blog post gave an update on one of these cases. There were several other cases that we worked on, submitting detailed legal submissions to housing authorities arguing that such refusals of emergency accommodation were unlawful and these other cases were fortunately resolved before escalating to litigation.

The refusals were most often based on a decision of the housing authority that the homeless persons presenting had alternative accommodation available to them that they could occupy, and in some cases, the housing authorities determined that applicants had become intentionally homeless and therefore did not quality for emergency accommodation. These cases for the most part involved vulnerable non-national families and families who are members of the travelling community. The cases were acute and pressing and securing a positive outcome averted families with young children having to rough sleep. You can read about and listen to our piece on RTE’s Drivetime about one such case here.

Cases on completely inadequate and highly inappropriate emergency accommodation

We also dealt with several cases involving completely inadequate and highly inappropriate emergency accommodation and also cases involving placements of families in unsuitable emergency accommodation for a very long period. We prepared detailed submissions in these cases, and obtained medical reports and other supporting evidence, to argue that families should be moved to more suitable emergency accommodation or to long term stable accommodation. We have had some success in these cases and continue to work on the issue of long term homelessness and suitability of emergency B&B and hotel accommodation, seeking creative solutions both on the casework and policy side.

Cases on unlawful barriers to getting on the housing list

A recurring theme in our casework is barriers to getting on the housing list and through the year, we assisted many clients overcoming these barriers. Getting on the housing list can be a crucial step in moving out of homelessness and accessing support services, as well as ensuring access to rent supplement/HAP. We assisted one client for example who had been trying to get on the housing list for over a year and had been homeless throughout this period. He had been refused access to the housing list on the basis that he did not have a sufficient connection to Dublin.

We argued that accessing homeless services for in excess of one year established such a connection and that it would be wholly irrational for him to return to his original council area, where he had not resided since 1981. Further details on the case can be found in our blog post here.

In another case, we challenged by way of High Court litigation a refusal to put a non-national on the housing list on the basis that she did not satisfy the provisions of Circular 41/2012. Circular 41/2012 was issued by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (as it was then called) in December 2012 and is entitled “Access to social housing supports for non-Irish nationals – including clarification re Stamp 4 holders”.   Our client was married to an Irish national but was a victim of domestic violence. The housing authority said she would not be eligible to go on the housing list unless she made a joint application with her husband. It was only by recourse to High Court litigation that we secured a positive outcome for that client and secured her inclusion on the housing list. You can read more on issues arising in relation to the Circular here.

Cases in relation to termination of tenancies of voluntary housing association tenants

April 2016 saw a change in the law with respect of approved housing bodies and brought them under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board. You can read our blog on the change in the law here. Towards the end of 2016, we acted in several cases before the Residential Tenancies Board Tribunal arguing that termination of a tenancy of a tenant in voluntary housing, constituted an interference in their right to home and violated their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (the right to privacy and family life). We continue to work on several cases in this vein.  The core argument that runs through them is that the Residential Tenancies Board, as a public body, is obliged to act in a manner compatible with the Convention and must have due regard to Article 8 and the requirement that any person at risk of interference with the right to respect for the home must be able to have the proportionality of that measure decided on by an independent tribunal.

Cases in relation to the new evictions procedure for local authority tenants

Related to changes in the law, we advised on several cases during the year which concerned the new evictions procedure set out in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014. We have noted that housing authorities are become increasingly ready to rely on the new procedure. A summary of the procedure is available here.

Cases on succession to tenancy

We also acted in several succession cases, arguing successfully that occupants or tenants of a Council property enjoy a right to home that is protected by Article 8 of the ECHR and any decision to evict may only be lawful and proportionate if due regard is had to that right and in some circumstances, an offer of alterative accommodation is made.

 

This is a summary of the areas that the bulk of our work has been focused on but there are several other issues we have worked on. The queries we are encountering are becoming increasingly varied and complex.

We work with clients who are in an acutely vulnerable position and often come to us as a last resort having made extensive efforts to resolve the issues arising themselves. We are without exception in awe of the resilience of our clients and want to thank them for working with us. We look forward to a busy and productive 2017.

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Family refused emergency accommodation are accommodated following High Court proceedings

We recently acted for a family who were refused emergency accommodation by a Council on the basis, the Council said, that they were “intentionally homeless”.  The Council considered that the family should return to the United Kingdom, where they had lived for a short period immediately prior to presenting as homeless.   Following our issuing of High Court judicial review proceedings on behalf of the family, the Council agreed to provide emergency accommodation to the family and the family was accommodated.

Background of the case

The family of five were all naturalised Irish citizens and were living in a Council tenancy. In 2015, the family decided to move to the United Kingdom and surrendered the tenancy. The family informed the Council of their plans. The family lived in the United Kingdom for in or around a year and then decided to return to Ireland as the children had not settled in well and wanted to return to their community and friends in Ireland. Prior to returning, the family contacted the Council for advice on their housing matters. The Council advised the family to, when they came back, present to the homeless section, where they would be accommodated in emergency accommodation to give them time to source private rented accommodation to meet their long term housing need.

On return however, when the family presented to the homeless section, the Council refused to provide emergency accommodation to the family. The Council refused on the basis that the family could have renewed their tenancy in the United Kingdom and so that they had made themselves homeless and that they were, as a result, intentionally homeless. The Council advised the family to return to the United Kingdom.

The family presented at the Council several times over the course of ten days, explaining that they had nowhere to go and were at risk of rough sleeping.  They also explained and provided evidence that one of the children suffered from epilepsy, had suffered from a fit in recent days and was at risk of further fits on account of the exhaustion and stress caused by their homelessness. They explained that they were moving night to night to stay at different friends’ houses and were sleeping on living room floors in different houses. They explained that the goodwill of friends would soon be used up and they would face rough sleeping.

Legal arguments

MLRC met with the family and represented the family shortly after the initial refusals of emergency accommodation to the family.  All of the refusals were oral and not in writing. We immediately wrote to the Council and requested that they immediately reconsider the refusal of emergency accommodation and provide accommodation to the family, highlighting the particular needs of the family. We also requested that the Council give a written decision with reasons for the refusal of emergency accommodation.

In our correspondence with the local authority, we referred to the Housing Act 1988, particularly ss 2 and 10.  These sections govern the manner in which a housing authority must provide emergency accommodation where a person is homeless and seeks immediate accommodation.

Section 2 of that Act, states:

“A person shall be regards by a housing authority as being homeless for the purposes of this Act if –

  • There is no accommodation available which, in the opinion of the authority, he, together with any person who normally resides with him or who might reasonably be expected to reside with him can reasonably occupy or remain in occupation of, or
  • He is living in a hospital, county home, night shelter or other such institution, and is so living because he has no accommodation of the kind referred to in paragraph (a),
and he is, in the opinion of the authority, unable to provide accommodation from his own resources.”

In our legal submissions to the Council, we noted that:

  • the statutory definition of homelessness does not oblige an applicant to prove any prior residence in the administrative area of the Council;
  • does not provide for any assessment by the Council of the circumstances in which an applicant became homeless, intentionally or otherwise; and
  • there are no regulations which add to or expand on these requirements in relation to providing emergency accommodation to people who are homeless. We referred in particular to the High Court decision in Kinsella v Dun Laoghaire County Council, where the Court held a housing authority cannot introduce additional eligibility criteria over and above those provided for in relevant legislation.

In our submissions to the Council, we contended that:

  • the decision to refuse to provide emergency accommodation to the family was unlawful and in breach of its statutory duty.
  • the decision was irrational, was based on irrelevant factors and failed to have regard to relevant factors.

We relied on the fundamental rights of the family under the Constitution, citing in particular Article 42A of the Constitution which protects the rights of the child, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Legal proceedings

We sought to resolve this case without recourse to litigation but unfortunately, despite our several letters, the Council did not change its position.  We sought the leave of the High Court to bring judicial review proceedings to challenge the decision to refuse emergency accommodation. We were granted leave and due to its urgency, the case was brought back into court the following week.

The Council initially defended its decision to refuse emergency accommodation. The Council set out its case on affidavit, arguing in essence that our client’s homelessness had come about on account of the choices she had made prior to becoming homeless and that she had made herself homeless. The Council stated that in such circumstances, the duties of the Council diminish and that it had no obligation to provide emergency accommodation to the family.

Notwithstanding the initial course taken by the Council that was to defend the case, the case was settled before going to full hearing. The Council provided the family with emergency accommodation to the family’s enormous relief.

Conclusion

The family in this case were profoundly affected by the decision to refuse them emergency accommodation and experienced a hellish two months while the legal proceedings were issued and in train and up until they ultimately secured a resolution. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case and we have acted in several similar cases in the last twelve months. The majority have resolved prior to litigation, albeit often with threats of litigation. We have brought High Court litigation in several similar cases, which have all led to settlement and resolution of the cases fortunately in our clients’ favour.

The volume of refusals of emergency accommodation by housing authorities, in particular to families with young children, indicates a common misapplication of the law and shows up a potential need for training on proper application of the law, so that decision makers are equipped to make lawful and fair decisions in these most urgent of cases.

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MLRC case – MLRC recently assisted a client to be put on the housing list based on his normal residence, after the Council had refused on the basis that he did not have a “local connection” to the area

We recently assisted a client to access the housing list after 18 months of being homeless. Our client had been on the Freephone number for 18 months.  The “Freephone” is a service operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive for people who are homeless. Through this service, the person may be booked into a hostel bed for the night.  Our client had only ever secured a bed about one in every ten days due to the shortage of hostel beds. Because he was not on the housing list he had not been able to get an ongoing booking through the Council for a bed for the night.

Our client had been living abroad for a long period, having left his home town outside of Dublin in 1981. When he returned to Dublin in 2014, the Dublin local authority told him that he was not eligible to go on the housing list as he had no local connection to the area. The authority told him that he should instead return to his home town. He had not lived there since 1981.

MLRC representation to the Council – Council must first assess if applicant is normally resident in the area

MLRC, in representing our client, submitted to the local authority that it must, in accordance with law, first assess whether or not the applicant is normally resident in the functional area of the local authority.  It is only after that test has not been satisfied that they can then apply the local connection test.

The relevant law

In this argument, we relied on s 22(6) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. That section states what links to an area a person must establish to be eligible for the housing list:

(6) An allocation scheme may include conditions subject to which the preference of a household to reside in a particular area or areas may be taken into account in allocating a dwelling to such a household, including, but not necessarily limited to, conditions relating to—

(a) whether the household or any member of it currently resides, or at any time has resided, and for what period, in the area or areas concerned,

(b) the distance of the area or areas from the place of employment of any member of the household,

(c) whether any members of the household are attending any university, college, school or other educational establishment in the area or areas concerned, and (d) whether any relatives of any member of the household reside in the area or areas concerned.

[emphasis added]

Regulation 5 of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 provides:

  1. A household may apply for social housing support to one housing authority only (the “housing authority of application”), which authority shall be either:
  • The housing authority for the functional area in which the household normally resides, or
  • The housing authority for the functional area with which the household has a local connection, or
  • The housing authority that agrees, at its discretion, to conduct a social housing assessment in respect of that household on receipt of an application from the household.

We noted to the local authority that client had been living in its functional area and accessing homeless services there for well over a year and that he was engaged in various services there including medical services. We argued that on that basis he was normally resident in the local authority’s area.

The local authority, in response to our submissions, accepted our client onto the housing list.  The local authority based this acceptance on Regulation 5(c), noted above, i.e. its discretion. MLRC considers that it is clear that our client normally resided in the local authority’s area and was entitled to be on the housing list for that reason also.

Before this was finally resolved, our client was understandably becoming increasingly frustrated and desperate as the months of rough sleeping and uncertainty continued. While our client still faces the challenge of finding a permanent stable home, because he is now on the housing list he can at least have a bed on an ongoing basis.  In this way, he no longer has each day the great uncertainty and instability of finding a bed for the night through the Freephone service.

 

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Read more news from MLRC

MLRC is now recruiting a part-time Administrator to join the MLRC team

This is a unique opportunity to be part of the team working in public interest and human rights law to help those at the margins of our society within a vibrant, dynamic independent law centre, with an ethos which recognises the dignity of each person, seeking to ensure that all people are treated with respect and compassion and are enabled to achieve their full potential as human beings, committed to the principles of human rights, social justice and equality.

The Administrator position will be offered as a part-time fixed-term contract to cover a period of carer’s leave, of up to 30 September 2018, with an immediate start.  The salary offered with this position is commensurate with experience.  This is a part-time position based at Mercy Law Resource Centre, 25 Cork Street, Dublin 8.

  • For full details of the role and how to apply, please click here
  • To download a word document application form, please click here

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm on Thursday 3 November 2016.

 

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‘Right to reside’ restrictions on accessing social housing – Circular 41/2012 outlining the test for right to reside is overly broad and its strict application by local authorities is resulting in unfair and potentially unlawful decisions

We have been dealing with several cases recently where clients have been refused access to the housing list on the basis that they do not satisfy what is known as the ‘right to reside’ test. We have been successful in overcoming some refusals and have several cases that are ongoing, all of which highlight the shortcomings of the test and the way it is currently being applied.

The ‘right to reside’ test places restrictions on non-nationals accessing the housing list. The restrictions are set out in Circular 41/2012 which was issued in December 2012 by the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. The Circular updated a previous Circular on this issue (Circular SHIP 47/2011).

Circular 41/2012 – Access to social housing supports for non-Irish nationals

The Circular sets out guidance for local authorities on when a non-national will be eligible for inclusion on the local authority housing list. The categories that are stated to be eligible include, in summary:

  • spouses/civil partners of Irish nationals where a joint application is being made
  • certain EEA nationals and their family members
  • recognised refugees or individuals with subsidiary protection status
  • non-nationals who have accrued five years Stamp 4 residency status or who have Stamp 4 residency status for five years into the future.

Summary of shortcomings that MLRC has identified with the wording of the Circular and its application

We have identified several shortcomings in the Circular and these will be familiar to many organisations that work in the area of housing and homelessness. The main shortcomings include:

  • The Circular does not and cannot cover the circumstances of all non-national applicants who are also navigating the immigration system, i.e. a person may have a right to reside for reasons not noted in the Circular.
  • If they are not explicitly covered by the Circular, the applicant risks being refused access to the housing list and this refusal may be unlawful.
  • The Circular is for the most part being applied by local authorities in an inflexible manner without any exercise of discretion leading to unfair and potentially unlawful outcomes.

The Circular does not cover all the bases on which a person may have a right to reside

The Circular does not and potentially cannot cover all of the bases upon which non-nationals may have a right to reside. It is designed to impose restrictions on non-national applicants such that those who enjoy settled status here and those who have established links in the State are eligible for inclusion on the social housing list. There are however some particular gaps in the Circular that are of concern and that create considerable confusion.

One particularly glaring lack is the absence of any provision for victims of trafficking. Victims of trafficking are subject to distinct administrative immigration arrangements and once recognised as victims of trafficking, are issued with a specific immigration permission that reflects this. Such a permission is not however covered in the Circular and we are aware from our work with partner organisations that this often presents major difficulties for vulnerable individuals accessing the housing list and other housing supports.

We are dealing with several cases involving EEA nationals who are not expressly covered in the Circular yet enjoy a long term right to reside. These include EEA nationals who were previously working in the State and who have children in full time education in Ireland. These individuals generally enjoy a long term right to reside in the State. However, their circumstances are not covered by the Circular.

Related to this, the Circular purports to cover all EEA nationals who qualify as ‘EEA workers’ under Directive 2004/38/EC, but in fact it does not do so.  It does not reflect the terms of the relevant Article (Article 7) of the Directive and does not set out all circumstances in which an EEA national may qualify as an ‘EEA worker’. This lack leads to confusion and refusals that may not be well-founded.

Local authorities are frequently refusing applicants for social housing on the incorrect basis that they don’t have a right to reside

In practical terms, our experience is that when an applicant does not fit within one of the categories of the Circular, when they go to submit their application for social housing, they are simply turned away at the desk without their application being properly assessed. A local authority is under a statutory obligation to assess all applications for social housing support. Such a practise of turning applicants away without proper consideration is in our view unlawful and presents a further problem that the Circular is causing on the ground.

 Local authorities are frequently applying the Circular in an overly rigid way not taking into account the individual circumstances of the person applying

The Circular is a policy/guidance document and does not bind the Council as would statute. It is our recent experience that local authorities, even when presented with exceptional cases, insist on applying the Circular in a fixed manner with no flexibility to take account of the individual circumstances of the applicant.

Examples of MLRC cases

We have worked on two cases recently where the local authority should properly have applied a more flexible approach to the right to reside test as laid out in the Circular. One case involved a victim of domestic violence who was married to an Irish national. The local authority refused the applicant access to the social housing list on the basis that she did not make a joint application with her Irish spouse, even though that was not possible and would have put her at risk.

In another case, the applicant had been in the State, working and paying tax for over thirteen years and was lawfully resident in the State throughout. The local authority refused the applicant access to the social housing list as the applicant did not have Stamp 4 residency status for five years as required by the Circular. This case has now been resolved following our involvement.

 

 

 

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Thank you to Sarah Burns, TCD Clinical Legal Education Intern, for her excellent work with MLRC

sarah-burns-cle-intern-sept-2016

In September, MLRC was delighted to welcome Sarah Burns, who worked with us as part of her Clinical Legal Education Training Programme with Trinity College Dublin.

Sarah is a final year law student in Trinity College Dublin and has a strong interest in constitutional law, human rights law and public interest law. Sarah has been involved in justice & peace committees and is looking forward to getting involved in Trinity FLAC during her final year in college.

We are very grateful to Sarah for her contribution to MLRC’s case work, policy work and research, all of which she did with great energy and diligence and care.  Thank you to Sarah for supporting MLRC’s work for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

 

 

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MLRC hosts training on social welfare law for staff of Focus Ireland, delivered by Prof Gerry Whyte, School of Law, TCD

In July, MLRC held a two day training session in Social Welfare Law for staff of Focus Ireland, which was delivered by Professor Gerry Whyte, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin.

The training was for the staff of Focus Ireland and feedback included:

“Covers everything!”

“The training got it just right.”

“Interesting and well delivered training.”

“The training produced by Gerry was excellent. All areas of social welfare covered.”

“Training was offered in a clear and concise manner.”

“It was a very detailed informative and factual presentation over two days.”

This training provided a detailed overview of social welfare law and covered topics including:

  • Sources of social welfare law
  • Claims and appeals
  • Social Insurance
  • Social Assistance
  • Rates of payment
  • Supplementary Welfare Allowance
  • Unemployment and low pay
  • Illness, incapacity and caring
  • Family payments
  • The elderly and survivors

Professor Whyte is a leading authority on social welfare law and we are very grateful to him for delivering this comprehensive and detailed training.

If your organisation would like to arrange MLRC training on housing law & related social welfare law, please register your interest with us on 01 4537459 or by email info@mercylaw.ie.

 

 

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MLRC delivers open training session on housing and related social welfare law – 7 September 2016

img_1337As part of MLRC’s work, we provide training in housing law to organisations and individuals working in the field of homelessness. On 7th September MLRC held an open training session in housing law & related social welfare law for agencies whose clients’ issues include those of homelessness or risk of homelessness.  These agencies included staff and volunteers from Ballymum Community Law Centre, Irish Housing Network, Threshold Galway, Ballyfermot Social Intervention Initiative, and CIC Dun Laoghaire.

Our training session gave practical advice and information, which will help participants deal even more effectively with clients’ housing issues. “An appropriate amount was covered, both relevant and informative.”

The training session focused in particular on providing an overview of housing law and the law relating to homelessness and common legal issues arising with accessing these legal entitlements, the new procedure for evictions from local authority housing; HAP, and  the recent changes to the regulation of approved housing bodies

In their feedback, attendees rated the session as excellent, that it was very good and informative, and that it will make a large difference in their work. In particular, they identified that the training on the following was particularly useful:

  • Access and Eligibility for Social Housing  –  rent arrears need not be cleared but plan to pay must be adhered to
  • Right to housing not protected in constitution
  • Clarity around HAP
  • Eviction procedures
  • How to challenge/appeal decisions and how to request information
  • Role of ECHR
  • Rights in relation to priority on housing list
  • Details of case studies
  • The local connection test – the basis and limits of it
  • Tenant’s rights regarding issues of anti-social behaviour

Participants said the open training brought a “good housing mix of people from different organisations, as there’s an opportunity for sharing learning” and that it was “great to meet a diversity of service providers and share concerns and experience”. Also that the “case studies very helpful” and the “information pack very useful for reading”.

If you are interested in arranging a training session by MLRC, please contact Shauna on 01 4537459 or at shauna@mercylaw.ie. We would be very happy to hear from you and discuss the training that would be most useful for you.

 

 

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MLRC welcomes Kate Heffernan as intern with MLRC

Pic for blog (2)

MLRC is delighted to welcome Kate Heffernan as intern in July/August 2016.

Kate is going into her final year of Law in Trinity College Dublin and she is the incoming Chairperson of Trinity FLAC Committee.

Kate has a strong interest in human rights and social justice issues, with a particular interest in property law and public interest law.  Kate previously volunteered with the Trinity Access Programme and St. Vincent de Paul.

We are very grateful to Kate for her contribution to MLRC’s work – with great energy and diligence and care, assisting with  MLRC’s case work, policy work and research.  Thank you to Kate for supporting MLRC’s services for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

 

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