How our advisers helped Sofie
We stopped a young woman and her baby becoming homeless when the Housing Executive decided that her immigration status meant she was no longer entitled to temporary housing.
Sofie was born in Denmark. She moved to Northern Ireland with her family as a baby. She's 20 now and has an 10-month-old daughter. Sofie has lived her whole life in Northern Ireland.
Evicted from her rented home
Sofie had been renting a place of her own for just over a year. The landlord decided to sell the property and asked Sofie to leave. Sofie asked the Housing Executive for help as a person threatened with homelessness. The Housing Executive moved Sofie into temporary accommodation while they looked into her circumstances to decide if they had a duty to provide her with a permanent home.
Delays with EU Settlement Scheme decision
The Housing Executive can only help someone if their immigration status allows this. EU citizens like Sofie have to show that they have a right to reside in the UK.
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) protects the rights of people from the European Economic Area (EEA) and their family members who lived in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. As long as a person was resident in the UK on 31 December 2020, the EUSS can award them:
- Settled status if they’ve lived in the UK for five years
- Pre-settled status if they’ve lived in the UK for up to five years
Sofie had applied to the EUSS but there was a problem with her application and she was still waiting for a decision. Her mum and sisters had all applied at the same time and had got settled status without any delay.
The Housing Executive turned down Sofie’s application for help. Their decision said she was ineligible for homeless assistance because she did not have settled status under the EUSS.
Reviewing a negative homelessness decision
Sofie had a right to ask for a review of the Housing Executive’s decision that she was ineligible. She asked an advice agency for help with this review. Unfortunately, the Housing Executive upheld its original decision. Sofie was asked to move out of her temporary accommodation and had nowhere to go.
The advice agency that carried out Sofie’s review knew that Sofie would need legal representation to appeal the decision. Housing Rights has a partnership with this agency and they asked our solicitors to help Sofie.
Appealing the Housing Executive’s decision
You can appeal a Housing Executive’s decision on eligibility, but only on a point of law. Our solicitor Jill identified that the Housing Executive had failed to interpret The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 properly when making its decision. These regulations say that a person should be treated as having acquired settled status when
- they are a child under the age of 21 of a EEA citizen with settled status; and
- they have lived in the UK continuously for five years
Jill argued that Sofie met these conditions. She was 20 years old. She'd lived in Northern Ireland for 20 years. Her mother was a Danish national with settled status.
Before the case could be heard in court, the Housing Executive agreed to look at their decision again. After reconsidering all the evidence, the Housing Executive overturned the decision and accepted they had a duty to provide suitable accommodation.
Sofie is now on the waiting list for a social housing tenancy. She can stay in her temporary accommodation until she gets an offer of a permanent home.
Getting help with housing problems
Our advisers can help if you, or someone you are helping, is struggling to show they are eligible for help from the Housing Executive. You can get advice by: