Family Avoid ‘Bedroom Tax’ Eviction Threat After Lawyers Overturn DHP Application Rejection

Call For Local Authorities To Carefully Consider Individual Circumstances After Legal Victory On Behalf Of Disabled Family

08.05.2014

Legal experts have called on councils to carefully consider all applications made for discretionary housing payments (DHP) as a result of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, after helping a York family battling disabilities to challenge the local authority’s refusal to award payments which would enable them to stay in their property.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law team were contacted by the family, who wish to remain anonymous, after their DHP application in relation to their three-bedroom property was rejected by Ryedale District Council in February this year.

The family of three are deemed to have a spare bedroom even though the parents cannot share a bedroom due to their respective disabilities, with the wife suffering from multiple sclerosis and the husband suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and nerve damage sustained while serving in the armed forces in the Gulf War and in Northern Ireland.

The local authority, in declining their application for DHP, suggested they move to a smaller property, take in a lodger or earn an income to cover their rent shortfall. However, the family’s battles with conditions means they not only require the extra space but are also unable to work.

Facing financial difficulties due to the bedroom tax, they subsequently received an eviction notice from their Housing Association. However, legal experts at Irwin Mitchell successfully challenged the decision on the family’s behalf, arguing against the local authority on several issues, including that they had demonstrated:

  • A failure to apply policies on DHP and good practice guidance in the right manner
  • A failure to take into account the needs of the family and the fact they are unable to work
  • That the decision amounted to discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Expert Opinion
We are delighted that we have been able to help this vulnerable family gain access to the payments they deserve, after the original refusal placed a huge strain on them.

"Ryedale District Council rejected the application on grounds which were simply not viable for this family – a clear reminder that local authorities need to give proper consideration to applications and apply policies to the individual circumstances of each case.

"This family, which already faced so much hardship due to disability, was confronted with the prospect of potentially being evicted from their home as a result of an application rejection that should not have happened in the first place."
Fiona McGhie, Associate

The family involved in the case, which consists of a husband, wife and their daughter, have lived in their property since 2007 and applied for DHP in January this year, before finding out in February that they had been rejected. They had been allocated the property in 2007 for medical reasons.

Expert Opinion
This case is another example of the impact that the new bedroom tax rules have had on disabled families across the country.

"Local authorities need to ensure they are taking into account a family’s circumstances when determining discretionary housing payment applications rather than viewing just the numbers and figures on paper.

"Many families are missing out on what they are rightfully entitled to because of incorrect application of the recent policy changes."
Fiona McGhie, Associate