"MR Associates has been a great asset to our housing support services in safeguarding the security of our vulnerable tenants by representing them in housing benefit appeals"
Supported accommodation for adults with special needs
A local authority restricted the amount of housing benefit paid to a vulnerable woman (referred to as Ms Y) living in supported ‘exempt accommodation’ provided by Partners Foundation. MR Associates helped Ms Y lodge a housing benefit appeal and represented her before a First-Tier Tribunal where we persuaded the tribunal judge to overturn the decision of the local authority.
About Partners Foundation
Partners Foundation is a voluntary organisation established in 1994 to provide supported living for adults with special needs.
How MRA helped
MR Associates has worked with Partners Foundation as their housing benefit consultants for many years. Partners Foundation ran into difficulties when a local authority decided the amount of eligible rent being paid to Ms Y was unreasonably high in comparison to suitable alternative accommodation elsewhere. As a result, Ms Y’s housing benefit was reduced by over £130 a week. Ms Y had been living in her supported accommodation for over two years prior to the local authority’s decision to reduce her eligible rent.
MR Associates helped Ms Y lodge a housing benefit appeal. We represented her before a First-Tier Tribunal, prepared written submissions, drafted witness statements, and gathered all the relevant evidence for the hearing.
Ms Y had been diagnosed with complex medical needs, and her health problems meant she required full time support and a high standard of care. She had already been moved from accommodation where she had experienced considerable difficulties, causing her to become severely depressed and withdrawn. Unless the local authority’s decision was overturned Ms Y would have lost her accommodation, impacting detrimentally on her overall health and wellbeing.
The area of rent restrictions in ‘exempt accommodation’ is one of the most complex in the whole area of social security law. To prepare Ms Y’s case we undertook a forensic interrogation of each of the local authority’s arguments, and prepared a comprehensive submission, along with witness statements and evidence setting out why the comparator accommodation provided by the authority was not suitable and/or available for Ms Y.
The three main issues argued before the tribunal was (1) whether Ms Y’s eligible rent was not just high, but whether it was unreasonably high; (2) whether the comparator accommodation provided by the authority was suitable for Ms Y, and (3) whether the comparator accommodation provided by the authority was available for Ms Y.
We were able to show the tribunal, through both written and oral evidence and careful consideration of the legislation and case law, that Ms Y’s eligible rent was not unreasonably high and that the local authority’s comparators were neither suitable and/or available for Ms Y.
The tribunal judge ruled in favour of Ms Y and the local authority’s decision was overturned. As a result Ms Y was able to continue living in her accommodation.
MR Associates were recommended to us by a Solicitor. Over the years Mark Rodgers has been a great asset to our housing support services in safeguarding the security of our vulnerable tenants by representing them in housing benefit appeals. In a recent case Julia Austin dealt with a housing benefit appeal for a very vulnerable woman we provide supported housing to. Julia is very detailed and precise, and her in-depth knowledge and expertise is commendable. Julia is very sensitive, caring and understanding to the needs of vulnerable individuals and we would have no hesitation in recommending her.