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.
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.
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.
Protecting children seeking asylum from being detained based on appearance (BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department)
A person seeking asylum arrived in the UK at the age of 16. Officials thought he looked over 18 and he was held in immigration detention. He was later found to have told the truth about his age. The Home Office’s own rules say that unaccompanied children should not be detained. The person seeking asylum unsuccessfully challenged this in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), and again in the Upper Tribunal. He then appealed the UT’s decision in the Court of Appeal. We intervened in the Court of Appeal to challenge guidance from the Home Secretary which said that people seeking asylum who look over 18 can be treated as adults.
Challenging the Home Office’s Removal Notice Window (RNW) policy (R ((1) FB & (2) Medical Justice) v SSHD)
We intervened in a challenge regarding a Home Office policy, which gave people sometimes as little as 72 hours’ notice before they can be deported from the UK without further warning. The policy was ruled to be unlawful by the courts.
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.
Challenging the ‘two-child limit’ rule (R (on the application of SC and CB and their children) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 provides that child tax credit and its replacement universal credit will not be payable to any 3rd or subsequent children in a family born after 6th April 2017 (subject to some exceptions). This is known as the ‘two child rule’.
SC and CB each had a baby after 6th April 2017 and do not receive any tax credits for those children.