Launch of MLRC’s 2014 Annual Report, by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, on 7 May 2015

On 7 May 2015, MLRC welcomed Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, to launch MLRC’s 2014 Annual Report.

Also speaking at the launch were Sr. Peggy Collins, Provincial Leader of the South Central Province of the Sisters of Mercy, and Brendan Murphy, Service Manager, Dublin Simon.  Sr Peggy spoke about the Order’s support of MLRC,  and Brendan Murphy spoke about the beginnings and continued development of the collaboration between Dublin Simon and MLRC.

Our Annual Report launch is a time to reflect on the previous year and to look forward in order to continue the expansion of our service to help those who are homeless and those at risk of homelessness.  The event is also a great opportunity to informally meet and talk with colleagues in other organisations working in the field of homelessness and with those who volunteer and work pro bono for MLRC.

Thank you to all those who attended the launch and who give their support for MLRC’s work.

The 2014 Annual Report is available here.

For photos of the launch, please view here.

Please contact our office if you would like to receive a hard copy of our 2014 Annual Report.

 

Maeve Regan (MLRC Managing Solicitor) – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin – Helena O’Donoghue, (Chair, MLRC Board)

 

 

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MLRC successfully advocates for client who was refused access to housing list and homeless priority due to having “made herself homeless” and rent arrears. Local authority cannot impose such further criterion of manner in which became homeless into finding as to whether “homeless” or not

Our client presented to us as she was in emergency accommodation with her children having been evicted in March 2014 for rent arrears accrued unknowingly over a ten year period. Her social housing support application had been deferred and the reason given was due to ‘rent arrears from former voluntary housing tenancy’.  She faced two connected issues: the postponement of her social housing support application until her rent arrears were cleared and the postponement on the decision on homeless priority.

The Council deemed that our client had made herself homeless and for that reason had not been awarded homeless priority. As our client was deemed ineligible for social housing support within the meaning of section 20 of the 2009 Act, then she was also not eligible for rent supplement pursuant to section 198(3F)(a).

Under the current legislation our client was not eligible for social housing support unless she either a) entered into a rescheduling arrangement for her arrears or b) established that her failure to honour a previous rescheduling arrangement was due to circumstances beyond her control, whether financial or arising from the actions of the housing association.

We advocated and made representations on behalf of our client with the Council. The Dublin City Council 2013 Allocation scheme does not include any reference to the manner in which a person becomes homeless as a basis for determining whether they are in fact homeless and to impose an additional criterion relating to whether a person was responsible for their own homelessness, then this would seem prima facie to be unlawful.  Our client managed to secure funds and cleared her arrears and is now in receipt of social housing support with homeless priority.

 

 

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MLRC Client granted Need for Assistance Letter – client had been suspended from social housing list as had been evicted from her local authority house due to rent arrears

Our client presented to us as she was suspended from social housing support as she was evicted from her Council home on the basis of rent arrears in 2014. There was also an issue with abandonment.

The Case

Our client was a tenant in a local authority house and had experienced anti-social behaviour from neighbours in the area. She had also experienced a traumatic assault. She was not eligible for a transfer due to arrears of rent. In 2012, this lady felt compelled to move out of the property to a refuge as she feared for her own safety and for the safety of her children. Our client and her children have been homeless since, staying intermittently in a refuge or with family members.

During this time, a Notice to Quit was issued which resulted in repossession by warrant which was executed in 2014. However our client had left the property in 2012. Our client acknowledged that substantial arrears of rent had accrued with respect of her tenancy and she set up a repayment plan.

MLRC made representations on behalf our client together with the support of social workers, the client’s GP and key workers etc and advocated on our client’s behalf as to why our client should be granted a Need for Assistance Letter. The local authority considered our legal submissions and recognised that clearly our client and her children were homeless for a prolonged period of time and subsequently provided our client with a Need for Assistance Letter which will allow our client to access rent supplement.

 

 

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Family suffering severe anti-social behaviour awarded priority on transfer list – MLRC successfully legally advocated for family to be given priority

MLRC has been acting for a family in a case involving disturbing anti-social behaviour and persistent racist abuse. It was only after a very long battle with SDCC that this matter has been finally resolved and it is instructive to look at the way in which the case was resolved and the difficulties that family faced in securing a positive resolution.

The family moved into a property in 2010 and very shortly after began experiencing difficulties with their neighbours. These difficulties persisted and continued to persist up to the present day whereby they experience frequent abuse from a group of local youths and much of this abuse is racially motivated. The types of incidents the family have described involve rocks being thrown at their property and car as frequently as 3-4 times per week, empty beer bottles and eggs being thrown at the property, and frequent attacks on the family’s car such that they are no longer able to secure car insurance and make claims with respect to any damage to the car. Needless to say the abuse and anti-social behaviour suffered by the family is having an enormously detrimental impact on them and they began reporting the instances to the local council back in 2010.

In August 2011 they made an application for transfer to alternative accommodation on the basis of the ongoing anti-social behaviour. The application ran into difficulty however as the family had not provided and did not realise that a letter from the local Garda Superintendent was necessary in order to support the transfer application and the position of the council was that without such a letter, whey would not process the application. At the same time no efforts were being made to address the ongoing anti-social behaviour and that onus was placed entirely on the family to progress this matter which they did by contacting their local T.D.s and Councillors.

The problems persisted and intensified throughout 2012 and the position with the council appeared to be that they did not have sufficient records of the complaints and that the Gardaí had not supported the transfer application. On a later review of the file by our office, it was noted that several of the incidents which the family did report to the Council were not properly recorded and also that the reports to the Gardaí mostly made by via telephone call were also not recorded therefore the matter was not taken with proper seriousness by the Council.

As they were extremely unhappy with the situation, the family ceased making rental payments in early 2013 and built up various arrears. At this stage the Council indicated that they would consider the families transfer application if the arrears were discharged. The family subsequently discharged the arrears and it was only in November 2014 that the Council finally agreed to transfer the family.

MLRC did not become involved in this case until early 2014 and spent a considerable period of time attempting to obtain relevant records in order to substantiate and document the position in relation to the anti-social behaviour. Fortunately a positive decision was made by the Council without the need for a detailed submission from MLRC however our review of the Council’s file indicated that there were continued discrepancies and confusion on their records. The notes indicated that the family had been awarded urgent status but not priority transfer status. It was not clear to us what urgent status meant from the Scheme of Lettings and it was clear that there must be a finding that the family had been awarded priority transfer status in order for them to receive an offer of housing. We therefore assisted the family in highlighting these discrepancies to the Council and insisting that they confirm that the family enjoy priority transfer status and confirm what position they hold on the list.

We are pleased to confirm that the Council subsequently have confirmed that the family do enjoy priority transfer status and are listed at No.5 on the transfer list. While they remain in their current accommodation it appears that matters will be resolved for them in the near future and we very much hope that their situation will improve and they will be relocated very shortly.

 

 

 

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All information provided on this Blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a legal contract between this Blog and any person or entity unless otherwise specified. Click here to read more.