A single mother in Birmingham City Council, previously deemed ‘intentionally homeless’, has been reassessed and the decision turned around.
Terryann Samuels had been told that, due to not paying her rent, she was ‘intentionally homeless’ and therefore not eligible for help with housing for her and her children. She had been evicted due to rent arrears as her Housing Benefit did not cover her rent; her other benefits were intended purely to cover essentials to keep her family going, not to cover extra rent costs.
Organisations CPAG and Shelter both intervened in the case, arguing that other benefits should not be used to cover extra housing costs, and that Ms Samuels’ children should never have to go without the bare essentials to be able to pay for rent. In a brilliant result, the Supreme Court ruled that Ms Samuels was not ‘intentionally homeless.’
Unfortunately, the issue of so-called ‘intentional homelessness’ causes many problems; those living in inappropriate or uninhabitable properties are often deemed not eligible for housing support if they deliberately leave the tenancy without being evicted, even if they then become street homeless.
Although the outcome of the court case isn’t fully set out yet, the recognition that tenants should not have to spend the money intended for basic living costs on rent just to avoid homelessness is reassuring and encouraging.