Case study – Andy – Having an application for social housing refused on the basis of spent convictions

Andy contacted our helpline after his application for social housing was declined on the basis of his ‘previous criminal convictions‘.

Andy explained that he had three previous convictions but these were all spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act at the time he’d made his housing application. As he’d applied for supported housing, the housing provider had asked his social worker for a report to support his application. Having known Andy for years, she believed it was necessary to disclose his convictions as they ‘formed part of his file‘.

Andy had been told that he had the right to appeal the decision.

In support of Andy’s appeal, we wrote to the housing provider to explain that as his convictions were spent under the ROA, legally they should be disregarded by the allocations team. We provided them with details of a case which had been held at the High Court in 2016 where Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council were found to have acted unlawfully by basing its decision not to add an individual to its housing register on the basis that the claimant had a spent conviction. The High Court found that the Council’s decision amounted to a breach of Section 4(1) of the ROA.

At the appeal hearing, the panel reconsidered Andy’s application and revoked its original decision. Andy was told that he would be able to move into one of the units as soon as one became available.

Andy stated:

“I’m obviously delighted with the decision. However, it may be a couple of years before a unit becomes available whereas, if my case had been dealt with properly at the time, I would now be living in one of these units and benefiting from supported housing”. 

 

Lessons

Once information is disclosed to them, councils and housing providers may believe it necessary to take it into consideration when making a housing decision. However as recent High Court cases and the governments updated homelessness code of practice has made clear, spent convictions should be ignored.

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Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s casework.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

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