The housing rights of successful asylum seekers

The housing rights of successful asylum seekers

This article is a continuation of the article “What new legal rights and entitlements does a positive decision on your asylum application give you”, published in Issue 2 of Community Advice E-Newsletter (May 15, 2010). To access the whole article, please visit our Electronic Newsletter Archive.

In Issue 2 of Community Advice Newsletter we have already explained that successful asylum seekers who have been granted a refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain in the UK (the three positive outcomes of the asylum process) have broadly the same rights and entitlements as other UK citizens.

Yet, while successful asylums are entitled to receive free housing advice, they have no automatic right to housing in the UK.

What difficulties can arise upon a change of your immigration status and what actions could you take to deal effectively with them?

! Remember, If you have been receiving asylum support while waiting for your permission to stay in the UK, it will stop within 28 days of receiving your permission to stay in the UK. This might make it hard for you to sustain yourself and your family, especially if it takes you longer to secure employment.

Register with the nearest office of your Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible. This is the government agency which deals with all claims for benefits. This is where your application will be prepared and processed. Contacts of your nearest office can be found here.

Added to this will be the need to secure your own housing.

! Remember, upon receiving a positive decision on your asylum application, you will have 28 days to leave the accommodation which had been provided to you by the UKBA. It is essential that you use this time effectively to secure at least one of the following housing options:

            -social housing
            -private accommodation
            -applying with your local council as a homeless person

Applying for Social Housing

“Social housing” is a housing scheme offered by local councils or housing associations. Be advised that due to the very high demands for social housing, many applications may be either delayed or rejected. This is why it is essential that you consider and work to secure an alternative housing option along this one.

Applications for social housing can be made with any council in London. However, be advised that priority is given to applications where “local connection” is present. Any of the following will be considered a “local connection”: (1) you work in this area, (2) you have lived in this area for at least 6 months or 3 out of the last 5 years, (3) have a close family member who has lived there for 5 years, (4) you have been accommodated there by the UKBA at the point of receiving your new immigration status.

In order to apply for social housing, you will need to fill in a form available in the council`s offices or website. Upon submitting this form you will be entered in the council`s Waiting List (also called “Housing Register”).

! Remember, if you experience difficulties with filling in the form the council should help you and, if needed, an interpreter should be provided.

! Alternatively, please contact us by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk and we will do this for you!

! Remember, the outcome of your application depends on the information you have provided in your application form: in order to help the council identify your case as priority case, it is important that you include detailed information about any medical, personal or financial problems you might have.

Applying for Private Accommodation

While a private housing (a property owned and let by a private landlord) is a more expensive option, it is still possible to get help with covering some of your costs:

Local Housing Allowance: this is a scheme to help private tenants who are out of work or on a low income pay their home rent. Find out how to calculate the Local Housing Allowance you are entitled to get by following this link

Housing Benefits: this is a scheme for social housing tenants on low income. Follow this link to find out how you can apply for Housing Benefits.

Rent Guarantee/Deposit Scheme: this scheme can help you to cover the deposit which you will need to provide prior to moving to your new private home. Contact a local advice agency (find a list of advice agencies below) to check if this scheme is available in your area.

Refugee Integration Loan: this is another scheme which can help you with covering your deposit. A booklet providing detailed explanation on the loan in different is available here. Be advised that this loan will have to be paid back in the future. The application form for the RIL must have been sent to you along with the decision letter from the UKBA, yet if you have not received it you can request one by contacting the Integration Loan Team at the UKBA on 020 8196 5440.

Applying with your local council as a homeless person

You might be eligible to apply for housing as a homeless person because of your immigration status, age (if you are under 18 or over 60 year old), marital status (if you have a child and/or pregnant wife), or health situation (if you are ill or disabled). Again, a “local connection” with the council you apply with will give your application a priority. For more information on this option please contact any of the institutions outlined above.

This article has been published in Issue 4 of Action for Social Integration’s Community Advice E-Newsletter, July 19th 2010

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