|Making a difference|
|Learning & Events|
|Making a difference|
|Learning & Events|
The possibility of losing your home is a huge worry. Knowing that someone is working on your behalf to help reduces the strain. Read on to find out how we've helped people in Northern Ireland secure a decent, safe and affordable place to call home. Please note, owing to client confidentiality names and identifying features of clients have been changed.
Julie sought advice from a local advice agency which was a member of the Community Housing Advice Project (CHAP) based in Housing Rights Service.
Julie wanted help to get her local council to force her private landlord to carry out essential repairs to her home. She is a protected tenant and so has limited repair rights. However, where issues of public health or a tenant’s health and safety are relevant, a council can issue a statutory notice on a landlord to make them carry out certain repairs.
The query was passed onto a CHAP adviser who successfully got Julie’s local council to issue an abatement notice on the landlord. However, the landlord did not comply with the notice and, consequently, the essential repairs were not completed. Furthermore, the council failed to take any action against the landlord for his failure to abide by the notice.
Following complaints to the council, the case was sent to the office of the Ombudsman who investigated the matter and eventually concluded that the council had failed in their duty.
The Ombudsman ordered the council to pay the client £500.00 in compensation. The council’s Chief Executive also gave a personal apology. The council has confirmed a change of practice that in future in that all failures to comply with abatement notices will move immediately to legal action.
Anti Social Behaviour
The client reported all incidents to the housing association whose response was to offer mediation, however the neighbour refused to engage in this process.
Following further incidents the client reported the matter to the police. They stated that in order to make a prosecution they would need evidence and advised the client to install a video camera outside their premises.
The client duly did this and shortly afterwards received a notice seeking possession from their housing association as they had erected the camera without permission. The client had received no prior warnings from the association who seemed to have gone directly to initiating legal action. At the same time the association had taken no action against the neighbours involved in anti social activities.
Housing Rights Service lodged a complaint with the housing association. The client received an apology based on the fact that there had been no correspondence prior to the notice seeking possession. However the association stated that it would be pursing the NSP unless the client removed the camera from their property.
Housing Rights Service successfully appealed this decision and the Housing Association agreed to drop possession proceedings.
Housing Rights Service was approached by Sinead last year after she got into arrears with a secured loan. Sinead, a single parent whose partner had recently left her, was on income support and unable to work as she had no one to look after her children.
We approached the lender on Sinead's behalf to negotiate a lower payment or an extension of the term of the loan. They refused to accept this and proceeded to court to seek possession of the client’s home. When the case came to court we argued for an adjournment as Sinead was now in a position to work and actively seeking employment in a bid to clear her arrears.
The court granted a 4 month adjournment to allow for this, they also gave time for the lender and Housing Rights Service to negotiate a longer term for the loan so the monthly repayments would be more manageable for Sinead.
Eventually the lender decided to extend the loan from 5 to 10 years at a reasonable interest rate and the possession action was abandoned.
This case illustrates how even at the beginning there may be little hope, intervention from an advice agency can make a difference. As a result of Housing Rights Service negotiation and representation Sinead was able to avoid losing her home.