Hillingdon Council’s housing rules said that a person must have lived in the area for at least ten years before they could apply for a house. The council refused two people, a refugee who had been given permission to stay in the UK and an Irish Traveller, on these grounds. We saw this as discriminatory and we intervened in their cases in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal.
Immigration status and the right to rent a property (R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
As part of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ towards those without leave to remain in the UK, the Immigration Act 2014 prevents landlords from renting property to people who do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK. A body representing the interests of immigrants challenged this, arguing that the law breached both equality and human rights legislation because it causes landlords to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of their nationality and/or their race. This may happen, for example, because landlords think they do not look or sound British, even if they are not disqualified from renting.
Bedroom tax: under what circumstances is a spare room justifiable? (R (Daly and others) (formerly known as MA and others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Housing benefit regulations reduce the amount of benefit available to people who have a spare bedroom. Seven people who had lost some of their benefit challenged the Department for Work and Pensions in the Supreme Court.
Immigration rules: extending domestic violence protection to refugees (R (A) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
The wife of a refugee was granted temporary leave to remain in the UK. When domestic violence forced her to leave her husband, immigration rules meant she was no longer eligible for indefinite leave to remain. Had her partner been a British citizen or had settled immigration status, she would still be eligible for indefinite leave to remain under the Home Office’s domestic violence concession. However, the concession did not apply to partners of refugees. The woman unsuccessfully challenged the rules in the Court of Session (Outer House), and brought an appeal to the Court of Session (Inner House).
Preventing estate agents using ‘No DSS’ policies to discriminate against renters (J v X Estate Agents)
A female disabled renter successfully challenged an estate agent’s ‘No DSS’ policy on grounds it indirectly discriminated against her because of her sex and disability. Women and disabled people are more likely to be in receipt of housing benefit than men and non-disabled people, and as a result of the policy, blocked from renting many properties.
Britannia Jinky Jersey Limited, owner of Pontins, signed a legally binding agreement with us to prevent racial discrimination after we became aware of discriminatory practices, including an ‘undesirable guest list’, being used by the organisation.
Helping disabled tenants to make reasonable adjustments to their homes (Andrew Smailes, Stacey Poyner-Smailes and Clewer Court Residents Ltd )
A disabled woman needed to make reasonable adjustments to her home, but because she was renting, they were refused by the landlord. We successfully funded this case to clarify whether a term in the lease prohibiting alterations is contrary to the Equality Act.
Does planning policy discriminate against Gypsy/Roma/Traveller people who have stopped travelling due to age and disability? (R (Lisa Smith) v SSH, CLG and (2) NWLDC and Amos Willshore (Interested Party) and four interveners)
We intervened in this case to seek to protect the rights of Gypsies and Travellers who have ceased to travel, because of age or disability, not to be discriminated against.
Full case name:
R (Lisa Smith) v (1) Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and (2) North West Leicestershire District Council and Amos Willshore (Interested Party) and four interveners:
- Equality and Human Rights Commission
- National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups
- Friends Families and Travellers London Gypsies and Southark Travellers Action Group