Housing Rights in Advocacy


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Presentation given by JJ Costello, Shelter Cymru, Wales at a FEANTSA conference on "People who are homeless can be housed:
An insight into successful practices from across Europe", Cardiff, Wales, 2008

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Housing Rights in Advocacy

  1. 1. A Judiciable Right to Housing in Practice Good Practice WorkshopJJ Costello
  2. 2. Shelter Cymru A charity A dual focussed campaigning and service provider organisation Serving a Welsh population of 2.95 million
  3. 3. Welsh Housing Context 1.32 million homes  73% owner occupied  12% local authority rented  10% private rented  5% other socially rented Unfit properties (2004) are 4.8% of total Average house price - £158,000 (200,000 euro) Average rental - £525 a month (664 euro) Average earnings - £27,447 a year (35,000 euro) Homelessness – 14,875 households contacted local authorities regarding homelessness (2007) 80,000 on lists for social housing
  4. 4. Shelter Cymru’s Services 80 people involved in delivering advice and support services to people in housing need Cost of £3.1 million (3.9 million euro) Assist approx. 7000 households a year Homelessness Status 35 30 2000-2001 25 2001-2002 20 % 2002-2003 15 10 2003-2004 5 2004-2005 Imminently 0 Term Risk Homeless Homeless Roofless Homeless Statutory 2005-2005 Medium Not 2006-2007 2007-2008
  5. 5. Welsh RightsEnglish and Welsh law provides rights: The right to help and/or housing for certain categories of homeless households in certain circumstances The right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ for tenants The ‘right to repair’ for tenants The right to possession for landlords only after due process Help with housing costs for those on low incomes
  6. 6. Rights-based services Shelter Cymru employs:- Housing law caseworkers- Debt advisers- Benefit advisers- Support workers- Housing solicitors
  7. 7. Rights-based services (Cont’d)Shelter Cymru offers: Free, independent and confidential advice, advocacy and legal representation Available from well-used accessible community locations Supported by funding from the Legal Services Commission, the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities
  8. 8. How rights are used in practiceHomelessness Advising people of their right to help Enforcing rights through advocacy and legal action Clarifying and developing the primary law through case-law Alerting elected members to breaches in law Alerting regulators to individual and systematic breaches Working with those who administer the rights to address failure
  9. 9. How rights are used in practice (Cont’d)Harassment and illegal eviction Pre-emptive injunctions Ex-parte injunctions Prosecutions and compensationRepairs Orders to carry out repairs Local authorities undertake in default Prosecutions and compensation
  10. 10. How rights are used in practice (Cont’d)Possession and due process Defending possession proceedings Pre-action protocolsHelp with housing costs Advice upon entitlement Appeals against adverse decisions
  11. 11. The net result In homelessness cases, outcomes are known in 75% of cases 51% of households enabled to stay in their homes 35% of households assisted into other accommodation
  12. 12. A Judiciable Right to Housing in Practice Good Practice WorkshopJJ Costello