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Social housing secured

When a young woman with learning disabilities needed help defending a possession claim, Lou Crisfield not only helped to win long term secure social housing but also to clear rent arrears.

LF had had been the victim of very serious domestic abuse from a boyfriend who took over her flat for long periods and caused extensive damage to the property. She also had problems managing her tenancy, rent payments and benefit claims.

The council served a Notice to Quit and started the possession proceedings against LF because of rent arrears of around £19,000 (caused by problems with Housing Benefit) and because they had decided they owed her no further duties as a homeless person.

Lou Crisfield tried to negotiate with the council in an attempt to avoid a lengthy court case, but after negotiations broke down she filed a defence based on public law, Human Rights and Equality Act grounds.

Lou also made extensive representations to the Housing Benefit department which resulted in the full £19,000 rent arrears being cleared by a backdated payment. Once the arrears had been cleared, we again tried to negotiate a settlement with the Local Authority but this was not successful. The possession case continued and a trial date was set.

In separate proceedings we then filed a judicial review in the high court challenging various decisions made by the council in relation to LF’s homeless and allocations cases.

After issue of the judicial review, the council agreed to settle both cases with substantial benefits to LF. It was agreed that the possession claim should be dismissed, the duties to LF as a homeless person were to be reinstated, and she was to be given priority to bid for rehousing from the local housing register.

LF has now moved into suitable long term secure social housing, has no rent arrears, and has a support worker helping her to manage her tenancy.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Lou Crisfield, Miles & Partners Solicitors, London