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Court makes it clear – spent convictions shouldn’t be taken into account for housing applications

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The problem

Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities and social housing providers have some discretion to exclude people on the grounds of “unacceptable behaviour”. As we cover on our information site, we’ve seen examples of local authorities filtering out people with convictions.

We want to understand more about if, and how, criminal records are having an impact on peoples’ ability to get, or indeed keep, social housing.

Background

Under the old rules, councils would not have been allowed to make a rule which would apply to all people with convictions, or to anyone convicted of a particular type of crime. Past decisions showed that each application had to be considered individually.

The government’s guidance on the new regime states the following (with emphasis added), “Housing authorities should avoid setting criteria which disqualify groups of people whose members are likely to be accorded reasonable preference for social housing…. However, authorities may wish to adopt criteria which would disqualify individuals who satisfy the reasonable preference requirements…for example, if applicants are disqualified on a ground of anti-social behaviour.

When deciding what classes of people do not qualify for an allocation, authorities should consider the implications of excluding all members of such groups. ”

On the surface, therefore, the requirement that each case be assessed individually seems to have been significantly watered down by the Localism Act 2011. Since that came into force, we’ve seen anecdotal examples of local authorities who have refused people who have any unspent conviction, regardless of nature or seriousness.

Has your criminal record made it difficult to access social housing?

The Localism Act 2011 gave local authorities and social housing providers some discretion to exclude people on the grounds of “unacceptable behaviour”. We’ve seen examples of local authorities excluding people with convictions for a range of offences.

As part of our work on housing policy, we want to understand more about if, and how, criminal records are having an impact on peoples’ ability to get, or indeed keep, social housing.
We’re gathering information and experiences to help us to better understand how a criminal record affects people when applying for social housing.

  • Has your housing situation been affected by a criminal record?
  • Have you been refused a tenancy or been evicted as a result of a criminal record?
  • Have you come across any blanket policies being used by local authorities or housing associations?

What we need from you

If you have been excluded from housing due to your criminal record, contact us at policy@unlock.org.uk using the subject header ‘Call for evidence: housing’. Please include:

  • Your name
  • Contact details (email and telephone) and how you’d like us to contact you
  • Details of your criminal record
  • Details of your experience (please include the name of the housing provider and of any staff you spoke to, include emails/screenshots etc if possible)
  • What you think should change
  • Whether you’d be willing to take part in media coverage on this issue in future (this is for our reference only, we won’t share your details with others).

Any information you provide will be kept in line with our confidentiality policy. Any personal information provided to us will not be shared externally without your consent.

Find out more about how we handle your data.

Case studies

Court makes it clear – spent convictions shouldn’t be taken into account for housing applications

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

Latest news

See the bottom of this page for our latest posts about this issue.

You can also find below the latest from Twitter, using the hashtag #housingconvictions (although we cannot endorse what gets displayed here).


 

 

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