Webchat: Establishing Security of Tenure
Posted by Natalie Pearson 12/11/19
The NHAS webchat team provide specialist advice on housing and welfare benefit queries to help you support your clients. To chat with an adviser just head to the NHAS homepage, where you will see a purple box that says ‘please click here to chat’. This case study looks at how the team helped a local authority establish the security of tenure in the context of a client applying for homelessness assistance.
Case Study Overview
Establishing security of tenure in the context of a client applying for homelessness assistance
What was the problem?
This situation involved a single parent with one child who were living in a property belonging to the client’s mother, who had recently died. The client had been caring for her mother for 9 years before her mother passed away. Another relative, being the executor of the will, had threatened to change the locks on the property if they did not move out. The client was a beneficiary of the will. The local authority wanted to know what rights the client had to remain in the property, and whether she would be effectively making herself intentionally homeless by leaving the property at this point.
What we did
We were able to advise the local authority about the process for checking whether or not probate had been granted, and were able to establish that in this case it had. We explained that this gave the executor of the will the authority to gather the assets of the estate in order to distribute them amongst the beneficiaries of the will. We advised the local authority that because the client had been living at the property simply with her mother’s permission, she was only occupying the property as a bare licensee. Because this had the effect of excluding her from the Protection from Eviction Act and rendering her an excluded occupier, she was only entitled to reasonable notice to leave the property and could be evicted without a court order. Because the client had already been given reasonable notice, the executor of the will would be entitled to change the locks as proposed. Since the client had no long term right to remain in the property and the locks could be changed at any time, it would not be reasonable for her to remain there – which meant that the local authority had no basis for finding her intentionally homeless by reason of leaving the property at this point.
The client was provided with interim accommodation on our advice, since there was reason to believe that she was homeless, eligible for assistance and in priority need. The local authority received assistance with their enquiries, with the result that they were then in a position to make a decision to accept the relief duty towards the client.