Housing. Adviser learning programme. Module: Core learning. May 2016

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1 Adviser learning programme Module: Core learning

2 Contents Section 1 - Introduction...3 Section 2 Jargon list...6 Section 3 Importance of housing status...8 Section 4 Housing history...11 Section 5 Identifying housing status...14 Section 6 Checking rights and duties...18 Section 7 The possession process...21 Section 8 Do they have to leave?...26 Section 9 Summary of pack...33 Section 10 - Answers...35 To do this pack you need: about three hours, you do not need to do this pack in one go pen and paper your learning and assessment record online assessment access to AdviserNet. Please do not write in this pack, other learners will want to use it after you. 2

3 Section 1 - Introduction After completing this section you should be able to: outline what the pack will cover identify the resources you ll need to work through the pack. This pack, together with the interviews you ve observed, will prepare you for your first interviews with clients who have queries about rented housing. It does not contain lots of detailed information about housing law this is in AdviserNet but covers key principles and a systematic approach to housing advice. For example, you may interview a client whose landlord has not fixed a broken toilet. This pack will give you the framework to work through the exploration and options stages with such a client, and to weigh up the possibility of taking legal action to get the repair done with the risk of retaliatory eviction. The pack will: Demonstrate the importance of housing status for most housing queries. Help you use AdviserNet to identify housing status and explore how housing status affects a client s housing rights and duties. Provide a summary of housing law history to illustrate the importance of finding out for example, a client s tenancy start date. Give an outline of the process for evicting people who rent their homes, including checking if they have rights to stay, even when the possession process has started. Help you to apply the advice framework to an example client with a housing query. 3

4 Pack objectives After completing this pack you should be able to: Explain the meaning of common housing terms for housing status and possession. Explain the importance of identifying housing status at the start of most housing queries in relation to different rights to stay and other common housing rights. Briefly identify past housing law changes, and that they impact on housing status and rights. Identify the four most common types of housing status in straightforward situations using AdviserNet. Identify other resources to use if a client s housing status is not straightforward. Identify the different kinds of housing rights. Outline the five stages in the possession process. Describe how the possession process could be different depending on housing status. Outline a situation where a client who has been given notice by their landlord may still have rights to stay, i.e. not be homeless. Resources When you start interviewing clients on housing issues, you ll have access to a booklet which lists the key questions you need to ask clients to diagnose their problem, AdviserNet, your advice session supervisor, and specialist housing consultancy. For completing this pack, you will only be expected to use AdviserNet. Specialist housing consultancy In England, the NHAS (National Homelessness Advice Service) provides free housing consultancy, training and information to Citizens Advice. NHAS is funded by the Department of communities and local government and is a partnership between Citizens Advice and Shelter. The NHAS website can be found at In Wales, there is no scheme like the NHAS. Shelter Cymru is able to provide housing advice to Citizens Advice as part of its normal service. 4

5 Using this pack This pack is not updated as often as AdviserNet and must not to be used to advise clients. There is a jargon list in section 2 which includes all the terms included in jargon boxes throughout the pack. 5

6 Section 2 Jargon list After completing this section and seeing how the terms are used throughout the pack you should be able to: explain the meaning of common housing terms for housing issues, status and possession Housing jargon terms are explained in jargon boxes as they appear throughout the pack. Here are copies of the boxes. Disrepair The legal term describing housing repairs which need doing. Excluded occupiers A type of housing status which means that a landlord can lawfully evict an occupier without needing a court order. Examples of excluded occupiers are a lodger sharing accommodation with their landlord, or someone who is living in rent free accommodation. Grounds For some types of housing status, specific reasons are needed for eviction. These reasons are set down in law and are called grounds. For example, a ground for assured tenants is that the landlord wants the property back to use as their own home. All grounds are listed in AdviserNet system under the type of housing status. Grounds are either mandatory or discretionary. Mandatory grounds When the ground for possession is mandatory, then if the landlord can prove the ground for possession to the court s satisfaction, the court must make an outright order for possession. Discretionary grounds When discretionary grounds are used the court must only grant possession if the ground is proved and it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances of the case. 6

7 Housing status The client s housing status tells you how easy or how hard it is to evict the occupier and also what rights and responsibilities they enjoy. Knowing a client s housing status is important because it will affect the options you can advise them on. Notice The first stage of the possession process. There are different legal requirements for what information a notice should include, and these depend on the housing status. Possession orders This is where the court makes an order that the occupier s right to occupy the premises will end, usually after a particular date. Possession process The name given to the legal process that must be followed to evict an occupier. The process varies according to the occupier s housing status. Suspended or postponed possession order This is where a possession order has been given by a court, but the occupier can remain in the property, as long as certain conditions, decided at the court hearing, are met. In some cases (postponed orders) a date for possession will only be set if the occupier breaches these conditions. If the conditions are broken, the landlord has to apply again to the court to set a date. More commonly, where the order is a suspended order, the landlord can apply directly for a date for eviction (bailiff s warrant) if the conditions of the order are broken. This type of possession order is only possible for certain types of housing status, and only where a discretionary ground is used. Vulnerability to eviction How easily a client can be evicted from their rented housing depends on their housing status and their current situation. For example, are they already in the possession process or an excluded occupier? Exploration of a client s situation will allow you to check this using AdviserNet. Warrant of possession The warrant of possession can be issued by a court after a possession order date if the occupier has not left. Once the warrant of possession has been issued, the occupier will receive a Notice of eviction from the court, which will tell them the date and time the bailiff will attend to carry out the eviction. 7

8 Section 3 Importance of housing status After completing this section, you should be able to: explain the importance of identifying housing status at the start of all housing queries and the connection between housing status and different rights to stay and other common housing rights. It is very important to find out housing status at the start of all housing queries for two reasons. 1. A client s rights may depend on their housing status. Two clients with the same query may have different rights, because of their different housing status so housing status must be established before rights can be checked. Housing status The client s housing status tells you how easy or how hard it is to evict the occupier and also what rights and responsibilities they enjoy. Knowing a client s housing status is important because it will affect the options you can advise them on. 2. A client may be vulnerable to eviction depending on their housing status so if they try to enforce their rights, for example to have a disrepair remedied, they may risk being evicted. Vulnerability to eviction How easily a client can be evicted from their rented housing? This depends on their housing status and their current situation. For example, are they already in the possession process? Exploration of a client s situation will allow you to check this using AdviserNet. 8

9 When advising a client with a query about their rented home, you need to follow a systematic process of: 1. identifying housing status using AdviserNet 2. matching the client s housing status to rights and duties 3. checking the client s vulnerability to eviction - this will always depend on housing status. then you can: 4. outline options 5. help client make an informed choice. It can be useful for you to explain to a client the importance of finding out housing status first. Then your client understands why you are going through the steps when dealing with their query. We will come back to this process several times in this pack and it is reflected in the case study below: Amanda accesses her local Citizens Advice. She tells you her landlord has put the rent up and she wants to check if he can do this. You start by checking Amanda s housing status by asking a few questions from the question booklet and then use AdviserNet. You find that Amanda is an assured tenant. You then check how rent can be increased for assured tenants using AdviserNet. You next check from Amanda s information if her landlord has done this. It turns out that her landlord has not followed the right procedure. You use AdviserNet to outline the options Amanda has to challenge her landlord. You also use AdviserNet to advise Amanda on her vulnerability to eviction as an assured tenant. She is not vulnerable to eviction. Amanda decides to challenge her landlord. You write a letter for Amanda, checking the letter with your advice session supervisor. Amanda says that she would not have challenged her landlord about the rent increase if she was vulnerable to eviction. She is very settled in her home, and would not want to risk losing it. 9

10 Often clients need to weigh up their options and the possible outcomes, before deciding how to move forward with a situation. For housing issues, a client needs to weigh up their options of pursuing rights against the possibility of being evicted. The next section looks at how to identify housing status. Before you move on, do the exercise below. Exercise section 3 Read through the scenario and the list of activities. Arrange the activities into the order you would follow to advise the client. You can check your answer with the answers section at the back of the pack. Scenario: Mr and Mrs Khan have two children, aged five and seven. They currently live in a two bedroom flat. The kitchen sink is not working properly. Mrs Khan has accessed her local Citizens Advice to ask what their landlord should do about it. List the order in which you would do the following: a. match client s housing status to rights and duties b. outline options c. check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction d. help client make an informed choice e. identify housing status using the question booklet and AdviserNet. Summary Housing status needs to be checked at the start of most housing queries. This is so you can then go on to check what rights a client has, and their vulnerability to eviction. It is only after these stages that a client can weigh up their options. 10

11 Section 4 Housing history After completing this section, you should be able to: briefly identify past housing law changes, and that they impact on housing status and rights. It is useful to have an understanding of housing history, because this helps to explain why housing law can seem complex. Most housing legislation has been changed in response to social, political or economic pressures on governments in power. There have been many changes that cover types of tenancies, for example, in the private rented sector. Reading about these changes, and why they happened, can help advisers remember to ask about tenancy dates, and remind them that research evidence can make a difference. After the 㜸rst and second world wars After both the first and second world wars there was a massive shortage in housing and many families were in housing classed as slums. Some of the measures that the government believed would address these problems included slum clearance and subsidies for local authorities to build houses. It is estimated that in 1938, there were 11.4 million dwellings in England and Wales, of which: 32% were owner occupied 58% were privately rented 10% were public sector. By the 1950 s this was to change: there was a dramatic increase in local authority housing and a slump in the amount of private rented accommodation 11

12 Rachman In the 1950s the Government needed to stimulate the private rented market especially because at this time there were few housing options for homeless families and other vulnerable people. In an attempt to address the shortage of private rented accommodation, the Government tried to stimulate this sector by: making it easier for landlords to evict tenants abolishing rent controls, so landlords could charge higher rents. Peter Rachman was a London landlord in the 1950s who became notorious for his exploitation of tenants. Due to these changes in law he was able to evict many established tenants to make way for higher paying tenants, or to sell the properties. There was a public outcry in response to Rachman s actions and the vulnerable nature of private rented accommodation. The Government responded by again changing the law, re-introducing better conditions for tenants, particularly making it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants. Rent Act 1977 Introduced protected tenancies (also called regulated rent act or fair rent tenancies), and fair rents. Housing Act 1988 In the late 1980s the Government was again under pressure to stimulate the private rented sector and decided it needed to introduce measures which would attract potential landlords. The Act: gave less security for new tenancies through the introduction of assured tenancies (these became the 'default' type for new private tenancies arising) allowed landlords to also create assured shorthold tenancies, which reduced security of tenure further withdrew the right to a fair rent for new tenancies This actually did little to increase the amount of private rented accommodation. 12

13 Housing Act 1996 In the 1990 s there was still pressure to stimulate the private rented sector and pressure to deal with problem' neighbours. The most important changes made by the Act were: increased powers for local authorities to evict anti-social tenants made assured shorthold tenancies the 'default' private tenancy type, to try again to increase the amount of private rented accommodation In order to find out someone s housing status you will often need to check dates because of changes from the above laws. The Localism Act 2011 This Act affected England and changed the way people accessed social housing. It allowed local authorities to grant fixed term tenancies, and for the homelessness duty to be discharged by an offer of private rented sector accommodation. It also gave local authorities greater power to decide which categories of person they allocate accommodation to. 13

14 Section 5 Identifying housing status After completing this section, you should be able to: identify the four most common types of housing status in straightforward situations using AdviserNet identify other resources to use if a client s housing status is not straightforward Identifying housing status is the first process for most housing queries. This is because a client s rights depend on it and they may be vulnerable to eviction because of it. So you need to identify housing status before a client s rights and vulnerability to eviction can be checked. This section takes you through the common questions to ask a client to find out their housing status. (You do not need to remember these questions because when you are advising you will have access to the question booklet). The common questions: Do you have a tenancy or a licence? When did the client move in? In whose name is the agreement? Who is the landlord? If a private landlord, does the client share living space with them? What rent, if any, is paid? Generally the answers to these common questions should provide key information that will help you identify a client s housing status. There are four types of housing status you are most likely to see. The common questions will usually let you identify these, using AdviserNet > Housing > Giving housing advice > Checking housing status. This advice document has a series of flowcharts and therefore lots of questions to work through, but you will find that the common questions will give you the answers for most of these. You will see that AdviserNet has a section on Tenants and renting which tells you all you need to know about different types of tenancies. 14

15 The four most common types of housing status are: secure tenants assured tenants assured shorthold tenants excluded occupiers. Depending on housing in your local area, you will come across other types of housing status. These may include: introductory or demoted tenants occupiers with basic protection protected tenants assured agricultural tenants trespassers/squatters. Flexible tenancies Remember AdviserNet: Checking housing status includes these and other types of housing status and how to identify them. AdviserNet has advice documents describing the rights and duties listed under the different types of housing status. It will not always be easy to identify a client s housing status. But because this is the starting point for most types of housing queries, it is important to do. If you are unsure how a client s situation fits a housing status, you should check with your advice session supervisor or specialist housing consultancy. The following exercise gives you a chance to identify housing status for clients in straightforward situations. The exercise also checks about what resources you can use if your client s housing status is not clear. 15

16 Exercise section 5 Use AdviserNet: Checking housing status, to work out the most likely housing status for the four clients below. Then answer question Charles landlord is the local council. He signed up for his tenancy and moved in 45 years ago when he married Patricia. They live in their one bedroom flat. He pays 95 rent a week. 2. Leila s landlord is a registered social landlord. She signed her tenancy with them in 1996 and has lived there ever since. She lives alone. She pays 110 rent a week. There was no initial fixed term, and she has not been taken to court by her landlord. 3. Julie lives with three other students. Their landlord is Mr Brown, who lives a few streets away. They signed their six month tenancy together and moved in four months ago. Her share of the rent is 350 a month. 4. Nikos has a room in his landlord s house. He shares a bathroom and kitchen with Colin, his landlord. Nikos has lived here seven months and pays 120 rent every week including bills. 5. List a resource you could use if you are not sure of a client s housing status after checking through AdviserNet. The answers are in the back of the pack. You should record housing status on the client s case record. 16

17 Summary Identifying housing status is the first step for most housing queries. This is because a client s rights depend on their housing status and a client may be vulnerable to eviction because of their housing status. There are different types of housing status - four common types of housing status are identified in this section. In the question booklet there are a set of questions in there to help you identify a client s housing status. The answers to these questions usually give enough information for you to use AdviserNet: Checking housing status. Sometimes there will be other questions to ask, which are in the above information item. Sometimes it will not be easy to identify a client s housing status. If you are unsure, you should check with your advice session supervisor, or specialist housing consultancy. 17

18 Section 6 Checking rights and duties After completing this section, you should be able to: identify the different kinds of housing rights In the previous sections you learnt that it s important to establish housing status before you advise clients about their rights in rented housing. Section 5 covered how you can find out a client s housing status. This section gives you practise at finding out rights and duties for main types of housing status. Later sections cover vulnerability to eviction. Some rights and duties are the same for different types of housing status. But some rights and duties are different, depending on housing status. For example, most occupiers have a duty to pay rent, but there are different ways for a landlord to increase rent, depending on housing status. Overall, some types of housing status have more rights than others. For example, secure tenants have more rights than excluded occupiers. Excluded occupiers A type of housing status where a landlord can lawfully evict an occupier without needing a court order. An example of an excluded occupier might be a lodger sharing living accommodation with their landlord, or someone who is living in rent free accommodation. In AdviserNet there are advice documents about rights which are common to many types of housing status. For example: Disrepair what is it? Landlord and tenant: common problems. There are also items about housing rights and duties specific to types of housing status for example: Secure tenancies Excluded occupiers 18

19 Disrepair Disrepair is when your home is in need of repair. Remember Amanda from section 3? She accessed the service to check if her landlord can put the rent up. You checked Amanda s housing status and found she is an assured tenant. You then check how rent can be increased for assured tenants. You do this by using AdviserNet: Assured and assured shorthold tenancies: rent. You see that AdviserNet also has items on rent for other types of housing status, including secure tenants. You use AdviserNet to check Amanda s situation and outline the options Amanda has. Remember, you also use AdviserNet to advise Amanda on her vulnerability to eviction as an assured tenant. To show you that rights can vary with housing status, here s a summary of some rent descriptions from a number of items in AdviserNet. Don t try to memorise them, as when you are advising clients, you will use AdviserNet. Housing status Rent description AdviserNet Protected tenants Fair rent Protected tenancies: rent Secure tenants Assured and assured shorthold tenants Affordable rent (in nearly all cases) Market rent although the amount charged by social landlords will usually be less Secure tenancies: rent Assured and assured shorthold tenancies: rent Excluded occupier Contractual rent Excluded occupiers It s important to remember than even if a client has a right, they may not choose to enforce it. Part of a client s decision about housing query options will be about their vulnerability to eviction. The eviction process and how housing status can make a difference is covered in the next two sections. 19

20 Summary You need to know a client s housing status before checking their rights and duties, and advising on their options. This is because housing status determines what rights and duties a client has. When you are advising clients, you will use AdviserNet to check a client s rights and duties. Some rights and duties are the same, but there are lots of rights and duties that vary depending on housing status. Overall some types of housing status have more rights than others. For example, secure tenants have more rights than people in most other types of housing status. The next section looks at the possession process for rented housing. This is important, as to advise on housing rights, you also need to check on vulnerability to eviction. 20

21 Section 7 The possession process After completing this section, you should be able to: outline the five stages in the possession process This section looks at the possession process. This is how a client may be evicted by their landlord. Possession process The name given to the legal process that must be followed to evict an occupier. The process varies according to the occupier s housing status. Finding out housing status lets you find out what rights and duties the client has and lets you check for vulnerability to eviction. This means a client can then weigh up all their options, and possible outcomes. The possession process is broadly similar for people in most types of housing status, although details do vary. It is these variations which mean people in some types of housing status are more vulnerable to eviction. It s important to remember that clients with similar housing rights and duties may have different vulnerability to eviction. For example, an assured shorthold tenant is more vulnerable to eviction than an assured tenant. These differences will be covered in the next section. There are five main stages of the possession process: 1. Notice 2. Court proceedings 3. Court decision 4. Warrant of possession 5. Eviction 21

22 You will see clients who are at different stages in the possession process. If a client is being evicted it is important to find out which stage they are at. The question booklet will help you find this out with a client. This section goes through each of the five stages. The next section will look at where housing status can make a difference at each stage. 1. Notice This is the first stage in a possession process. For most types of housing status, the notice must be in writing and include set information. In most situations, the next stage of a possession process can t be started until a notice has been issued. So a notice acts as a warning that the other stages of the possession process could now be used. Notice The first stage of the possession process. There are different legal requirements for what information a notice should include, and these depend on housing status. Remember: Most clients do not need to leave at the notice stage, although remaining may mean that they become liable for court costs. 2. Court proceedings The second stage is the start of court proceedings and the court serving papers on the tenant. This is a crucial stage in the process as it sets out the basis for the landlord s claim, invites the tenant to fill in a Defence Form, and gives the date of the hearing - although there s no date for accelerated possession proceedings. 3. Court decision This is the third stage in a possession process. For most situations a court hearing is needed for a decision, after the landlord has applied for possession. At this stage the court can decide to issue a possession order to the occupier. Possession orders This is where the court makes an order that the occupiers right to occupy the premises will end, usually after a particular date. In certain cases, the order may be 22

23 'suspended' on terms - i.e. the client can remain as long as they comply with these terms (most commonly payment of rent arrears). A client has a legal right to remain beyond the date set out in a possession order, but is likely to incur further court costs if the landlord then applies for an eviction warrant. 4. Warrant of possession If an occupier has not left by the date on a possession order, a landlord can ask a court to issue a warrant of possession. This gives a date and time when the court bailiffs will come to the property and change the locks. Warrant of possession The warrant of possession can be issued by a court after a possession order date if the occupier has not left. Once the warrant of possession has been issued, the occupier will receive a Notice of eviction from the court, which will tell them the date and time the bailiff will attend to carry out the eviction. 5. Eviction The occupier has to leave if they have not left already. The eviction is usually undertaken by court bailiffs on the date stated on the Notice of eviction. The locks to the property will be changed, and the client will no longer have access. In some cases it is possible to stop an eviction going ahead by asking the court to suspend the warrant for possession. This usually depends on the housing status and is mentioned in the next section. 23

24 Exercise - section 7 1. Put these stages in the right order: a. Court decision b. Eviction c. Warrant of possession d. Court proceedings e. Notice 2. Match a term to each of the descriptions. Terms: Eviction Possession process Court decision Warrant of possession Notice Descriptions: a. The name given to the legal process that must be followed to evict an occupier. b. The first stage of the possession process. c. A possession order can be made at this stage. d. Gives a date and time for eviction. e. Court bailiffs change the locks. 24

25 Summary There are five main stages of a possession process: 1. Notice 2. Court proceedings 3. Court decision 4. Warrant of possession 5. Eviction Housing status can affect the details of possession process stages. This is covered in the next section. This information is provided in detail in AdviserNet. When advising, you can use your question booklet, AdviserNet, and you have the back up of your advice session supervisor and specialist housing consultancy. 25

26 Section 8 Do they have to leave? After completing this section, you should be able to: describe how the possession process could be different depending on housing status outline a situation where a client who has been given notice by their landlord may still have rights to stay, i.e. not be homeless. The overall possession process is included in AdviserNet: Possession proceedings for rented property. As with housing rights and duties, some of the possession process is the same for most types of housing status, but there are also some differences. This section gives an overview of some of the differences. As well as housing status, a client s situation can affect their vulnerability to eviction. For example, they are less vulnerable at the notice stage and become more vulnerable as the possession proceedings progress. This can affect a client s choice about their options. The important things to remember are: the five main stages of a possession process that housing status and the client s situation can affect vulnerability to eviction all this information is provided in detail in AdviserNet you have the back up of your advice session supervisor, the Expert Advice Team, and specialist housing consultancy. In this section the five stages of the possession process are considered in more detail. Examples are used to show how advice can change for different types of housing status. 26

27 1. Notice This is the first stage in a possession process. For excluded occupiers, the notice stage is the only stage that needs to be followed before eviction. For excluded occupiers, they should leave at the notice stage. The landlord does not need to engage with the court process, and can exclude the occupier from the property on expiry of the notice by changing the locks, providing they do not use force or violence in doing so. Identifying housing status correctly is essential, because for all other types of housing status, occupiers do not have to leave at the notice stage. For different types of housing status there are differences in the information needed in a notice. One of these differences is whether reasons for possession (grounds) need to be included. There are also differences in how long a notice needs to run before the next stage can be started. Grounds For some types of housing status, specific reasons are needed for the possession process. These reasons are set down in law and are called grounds. For example, one of the grounds for assured tenants is that the landlord wants the property back to use as their own home. All grounds are listed in AdviserNet, with a page for each tenancy type. For example in Secure and flexible tenancies: notice and grounds for possession. Grounds are either mandatory or discretionary. Mandatory grounds When the ground for possession is mandatory and the landlord can prove this to the court s satisfaction, the court must make an outright order for possession. Discretionary grounds When discretionary grounds are used the court must only grant possession if the ground is proved and it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances of the case. The court also have the power to suspend a possession order on certain terms - e.g. payment of rent arrears. 27

28 2. Court proceedings This is the second stage in the possession process. Once any notice period has expired, if the tenant remains in the property the landlord may apply to the court for an order granting possession. The landlord must complete a claim form, provide particulars of claim, pay a fee and issue a claim form in the county court where the property is located. The court papers will include a defence form, which the tenant will use to defend the claim for possession. This should be returned within 14 days and then the case could go to court. 3. Court decision This is the third stage in the possession process. For assured shorthold tenants, occupiers with basic protection and excluded occupiers, the landlord is able to obtain an absolute possession order without proving anything other than that they served a valid notice and that the occupier fits into one of those three categories. There is usually no possible defence to proceedings unless the notice is invalid, but you will find out more about these issues when you undertake further training. For other types of housing status, specific reasons (grounds) are needed by the landlord for a court to decide to issue a possession order. For example, grounds for secure tenants include rent arrears. A possession order can t be issued by a court if the grounds aren t met. For some types of housing status, there are some grounds which mean a court can decide whether it is fair to issue a possession order or a suspended possession order, or whether it is fair to issue no possession order. These are called discretionary grounds. For example, if a secure tenant had very low rent arrears and was paying them back, a court can decide not to issue a possession order. This means that occupiers with these kinds of housing status are not as vulnerable to eviction as other kinds of housing status. If it is not a discretionary ground, then if the landlord proves the ground in court, and has not discriminated against the occupier on the grounds of disability, then the court must grant an absolute possession order and cannot adjourn, suspend or postpone any possession order. 28

29 Suspended or postponed possession order This is where a possession order has been granted, but the order delays the date an occupier must leave, as long as certain conditions, determined at the court hearing, are met. With postponed possession orders, there is a condition that a date for possession will only be set if the occupier breaches these conditions. If the conditions are broken, the landlord has to apply again to the court to set a date. More commonly, where the order is a suspended order, the landlord can apply directly for a date for eviction (bailiff s warrant) if the conditions of the order are broken. This type of possession order is only possible for certain types of housing status, and only where discretionary grounds are used. Howard calls Citizens Advice. He tells you that his landlord is taking him to court to evict him for rent arrears. He owes 1000 rent. You find out that he is a secure tenant of the local authority (LA) and that the LA sent him a notice about the rent arrears six months ago. The court hearing is in four weeks time. The LA is using the ground for possession for secure tenants for rent arrears. You ask Howard about the arrears, and he says although he is in a reasonably well paid full time job, he got into money difficulties a while ago, and didn t pay his rent. You check the information and talk to your advice session supervisor. You then call Howard back and advise him that as he is a secure tenant, it is an option that he does not have to leave if the court decides on a suspended possession order. You explain that this may be possible if he agrees to pay a regular amount towards the arrears, and that it can be useful to talk to the LA about this before court. You offer a referral to a debt worker to fill in a financial statement with Howard, to check about any other debts and to work out a reasonable offer towards the rent arrears. Howard agrees to this. A month later, the debt worker tells you that the court made a suspended possession order. They tell you that Howard is determined to keep paying the rent and arrears so he can stay in his flat. 29

30 4. Warrant of possession If an occupier has not left by the date on a possession order, a landlord can ask a court to issue a warrant of possession. For some types of housing status, and only where a discretionary ground for possession was used, a warrant of possession can be suspended. This will often be for the same circumstances as a possession order can be suspended: one example is secure tenants and rent arrears. 5. Eviction The occupier has to leave if they have not left already. An excluded occupier can be evicted by their landlord (with some safeguards). For other types of housing status, only court bailiffs can do this. Advising clients As you have seen above, the possession process details vary for types of housing status. So when advising, you need to use the AdviserNet item for their housing status, for example, Secure and flexible tenancies: notice and grounds for possession, as well as Possession proceedings for rented property. When you are advising clients of how their situation fits into the possession process, the questions in the question booklet will help you match the client s situation to AdviserNet. The checklist for advising clients in the question booklet includes: find out housing status What has been said or done so far? What reasons have been given?specific reasons may be needed depending on the client s housing status Does the client dispute the reasons? 30

31 Exercise section 8 Use the information in this section, and the previous section, to answer these questions. 1. Can the following a 耀' ect the possession process for a client? a. Housing status yes / no b. Age of occupier yes / no c. Rent arrears yes / no 2. Leila is an assured tenant. She has had a notice. There has been no court decision at this point. Does Leila have to leave at this stage? yes / no 3. Nikos is an excluded occupier. He has had a notice. There has been no court decision at this point. The notice expired today. Should Nikos leave at this stage? yes / no 4. Charles is a secure tenant. He has had a court decision of a suspended possession order for rent arrears. Does Charles have to leave at this stage? yes / no That s the end of the exercise. If you had any difficulties, re-read the two sections on the possession process. 31

32 Summary There are five main stages of a possession process. 1. Notice 2. Court proceedings 3. Court decision 4. Warrant of possession 5. Eviction Housing status can affect the details of possession process stages. For example, if grounds are needed. This means that housing status can affect a client s vulnerability to eviction. A client s situation can affect their vulnerability to eviction. For example, if the possession process is already underway, or if if no grounds are needed for their type of housing status, or if their situation meets the requirement for a ground for possession. This information is provided in detail in AdviserNet. Your question booklet gives you a list of questions to help match your client s situation to AdviserNet. When advising, you have the back up of your advice session supervisor and specialist housing consultancy. If a client is in the possession process, they may still be able to stay. If a client has left, or wants to leave, you will learn more about their options in the next pack Homelessness and housing options. 32

33 Section 9 Summary of pack Having worked through this pack you should now be able to: explain the meaning of common housing terms for housing issues, status and possession explain the importance of identifying housing status at the start of most housing queries with regards to different rights to stay and other common housing rights briefly identify past housing law changes, and that they impact on housing status and rights identify the four most common types of housing status in straightforward situations using AdviserNet identify other resources to use if a client s housing status is not straightforward identify the different kinds of housing rights outline the five stages in the possession process describe how the possession process could be different depending on housing status outline a situation where a client who has been given notice by their landlord may still have rights to stay, i.e. not be homeless. As you start to interview clients you will carry out the activities described in these objectives and develop your competence. If you do not feel confident with doing any of the activities listed here you can re-read the section and do the exercise again. You can also talk to your training supervisor about any particular difficulties. A last reminder! The process of advising a client with a housing query is: 1. identify housing status using question booklet and AdviserNet 2. match client s housing status to rights and duties 3. check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction Then you can: 4. outline options 5. help client make an informed choice 33

34 Exercise section 9 Answer the questions below. You will need to use AdviserNet: Checking housing status, for question Read through the scenario below. Then list the letters of the activities listed below in the order you would use to advise the client. Scenario: Mr and Mrs Khan have two children, aged five and seven. They currently live in a two bedroom flat rented from a private landlord. Their landlord lives in a nearby town. They both signed the tenancy agreement and moved in a year ago. Their rent is 600 a month. The kitchen sink is not working properly. Mrs Khan accessed Citizens Advice to ask what their landlord should do about it. Activities to order: a. Match client s housing status to rights and duties. b. Identify housing status using question booklet and AdviserNet. c. Check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction. d. Help client make an informed choice. e. Outline options. For Mr and Mrs Khan above, use AdviserNet: Checking housing status Please note, we have included limited information in the scenario so it may be that there is not enough definite information for you to answer all the questions in the flowcharts in that case assume the answer to be no. Make a note of which flowcharts you use. 2. List two reasons why it is important to identify housing status with most housing queries. 3. List three resources you can use when you are advising clients on a housing query. You need to answer questions 1, 2 and 3 correctly before moving to the next pack. Optional - If you want to, you can use the situation in question 1 as practise in using AdviserNet. A list of the relevant AdviserNet items, and options, is in the answers section. 34

35 Section 10 - Answers Section 3 Importance of housing status The correct order is: e. identify housing status using question booklet and AdviserNet a. match client s housing status to rights and duties c. check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction b. outline options d. help client make an informed choice. Section 5 Identifying housing status 1. Charles landlord is the local council. He signed up for his tenancy and moved in 45 years ago when he married Patricia. They live in their one bedroom flat. He pays 95 rent a week. Using charts 1, 2 and 2a of AdviserNet: Checking housing status Charles is a secure tenant. 2. Leila s landlord is a registered social landlord. She signed her tenancy with them in 1996 and has lived there ever since. She lives alone. She pays 110 rent a week. There was no initial fixed term, and she has not been taken to court by her landlord. Using charts 1, 3 and 3a of AdviserNet: Checking housing status Leila is an assured tenant. 3. Julie lives with three other students. Their landlord is Mr Brown, who lives a few streets away. They signed their six month tenancy together and moved in four months ago. Her share of the rent is 350 a month. Using charts 1, 5 and 5a of AdviserNet: Checking housing status Julie is an assured shorthold tenant. If you did not get this answer, check you moved to the No directly under the question Was the tenancy created before 28 February 1997? 35

36 4. Nikos has a room in his landlord s house. He shares a bathroom and kitchen with Colin, his landlord. Nikos has lived here seven months and pays 120 rent every week including bills. Using charts 1, 5 and 5a of AdviserNet: Checking housing status Nikos is an excluded occupier. 5. List a resource you could use if you are not sure of a client s housing status after checking through AdviserNet. You should have listed one of: advice session supervisor in-house housing specialist (if applicable) in England, the NHAS consultancy line (the partnership scheme with Shelter) in Wales, your local Shelter Cymru (if applicable). Section 6 Checking rights and duties 1. Using the information in the section above, match the client to the rent description for their type of housing status. You can use the descriptions more than once. Clients: Charles is a secure tenant. Leila is an assured tenant. Julie is an assured shorthold tenant. c. Reasonable rent a. Market rent. a. Market rent. Nikos is an excluded occupier. d. Contractual rent Section 7 The possession process 1. Put these stages in the right order: e. Notice d Court proceedings a. Court decision c. Warrant of possession b. Eviction 2. Match a term to each of the descriptions. a. The name given to the legal process that must be followed to evict an occupier possession process. 36

37 b. The first stage of the possession process - notice. c. A possession order can be made at this stage - court decision. d. Gives a date and time for eviction - warrant of possession. e. Court bailiffs change the locks - eviction. Section 8 Do they have to leave? 1. Can the following affect the possession process for a client? a. Housing status - yes. b. Age of occupier - no. c. Rent arrears - yes. d. Date moved in - yes. 2. Leila is an assured tenant. She has had a notice. There has been no court decision at this point. Does Leila have to leave at this stage? - No. 3. Nikos is an excluded occupier. He has had a notice. There has been no court decision at this point. Should Nikos leave at this stage? - Yes. 4. Charles is a secure tenant. He has had a court decision of a suspended possession order for rent arrears. Does Charles have to leave at this stage? - No. Section 9 Summary 1. The correct order is: b. Identify housing status using question booklet and AdviserNet. a. Match client s housing status to rights and duties. c. Check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction. e. Outline options. d. Help client make an informed choice. 37

38 2. Mr and Mrs Khan are assured shorthold tenants. Extract from Flowchart 1 Extract from Flowchart 5a Note that this pack does not aim to make you an expert in using the flowcharts so you will need practise. 3. List two reasons why it's important to identify housing status with most housing queries. A client s rights may depend on their housing status. A client may be vulnerable to eviction depending on their housing status. 38

39 Optional use of AdviserNet with this situation Identify housing status using question booklet and AdviserNet Using charts 1, 4, 5 and 5a of AdviserNet: Checking housing status Mr and Mrs Khan are assured shorthold tenants. Match client s housing status to rights and duties Using AdviserNet: Disrepair in rented accommodation: proper working of the kitchen sink is the landlord s responsibility. Check client s housing status with vulnerability to eviction Using AdviserNet: Assured and assured shorthold tenancies: notice and grounds for possession, Mr and Mrs Khan are vulnerable to eviction. This is because they are assured shorthold tenants, and their landlord could issue them with two months notice. If the landlord did this, and then went to court for a possession order, the court would have to issue a possession order as long as the two month notice from the landlord had the right information in it. Outline options Use AdviserNet: Disrepair in rented accommodation: The Khans need to tell the landlord about the problem with the kitchen sink and ask him to fix it. If the landlord still does not fix the sink, they have options of: writing a letter outlining the landlord s duty to fix the sink contacting the Local Council environmental health department to take it up with the landlord Help client make an informed choice The Khans need to think about their vulnerability to eviction as well as getting the sink fixed. It may be better to first try less formal options to get the sink fixed. The options stage of housing queries will be covered more in the next pack, Homelessness and housing options. 39

40 Using this pack Acknowledgments Thanks to all who contributed to the development of this pack. Availability Copies of this self study pack are available to download from CABlink > Training. Updates For the latest updates to Self study packs check the issued and amended dates at CABlink > Training > Index > Self study packs. Feedback We d be happy to get your feedback on this pack. You can the Learning and development team publishers: Copyright Copyright The NHAS is a partnership between Shelter and Citizens Advice, funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The overall aims of the project are to enable frontline providers to deliver good quality housing and homelessness advice, and support and facilitate the prevention of homelessness where possible. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited except with the express written permission of Citizens Advice. Company information Citizens Advice is an operating name of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Charity registration number , VAT number , Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered number England. Registered office: Citizens Advice, 3rd Floor North, 200 Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4HD. 40

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