Category Archives: Advice

Lambeth Council’s Cycle of Homelessness – Challenging the Temp 2 Settle scheme


Lambeth council have been making it harder for homeless families (and Smurfs) to get the quality, secure council homes they need and deserve

Are you homeless or facing homelessness in Lambeth? Are you making a homeless application with Lambeth council?

When you visited the housing office to make a homeless application, did the housing officer invite you to instead join the “Temp 2 Settled” scheme?

In our group, many of our members have tried to make a homeless application but instead been offered the “Temp 2 Settled” scheme. We are concerned about the confusion and stress this is causing for homeless families and how the scheme is being used to avoid certain protections that homeless families have when they make a homeless application

We always recommend that people have a buddy when visiting the housing office and with this confusing scheme, it is even more important for people to know their rights and have support through this process. It is also vital that we campaign together for better treatment, real housing help (instead of schemes like this) and for council housing for everyone.

What is the “Temp 2 Settled” scheme?

Temp 2 Settled is a scheme started in November 2014 by Lambeth Council which is being used to end or prevent a homeless assessment and therefore reduce the number of homeless duties on their records. This is done by offering people a 6 month private sector tenancy when you end your homeless assessment.  The sweetener that is offered is that it will improve your chances of council housing by being placed into band B (rather than band C where households with a homeless duty are usually placed). It is mainly aimed at homeless families as they are more likely to be given a homeless duty.

The effect of this scheme can be seen by comparing Lambeth’s homeless assessment decisions with that of the similar and neighbouring Southwark council. Before the scheme was introduced in November 2014 both Lambeth and Southwark made about 900-1,000 homeless decisions each year. Since then Southwark’s homeless decisions have soared to over 2,000 a year and Lambeth’s have dropped to almost 750. Hundreds of homeless applications will have been stopped with the use of the “Temp 2 Settled” scheme, or will have been discouraged from ever being started, because homeless families have been promised that they have a better chance of getting council housing by doing this instead of doing a homeless application.

Will the Temp 2 Settled scheme help me get council housing quicker?

Not for most homeless families. Although it depends on your specific circumstances. If you are not already on the housing waiting list then you will only join the list when you go through the Temp 2 Settled scheme and you will be put in band B. If you are given a private rented sector tenancy outside the borough of Lambeth, as over half are, then you will only stay on Lambeth’s housing waiting list for 2 years (because you are now living in a different London borough so after the 2 years are up you are no longer allowed to remain on Lambeth’s housing register). This means you will have very little chance of getting council housing before being removed from the waiting list. Last year only 2% of 2 bedroom social housing lettings were made to people who had been in Band B for less than 2 years. It was higher at 22% for people waiting for a 3 bedroom home.

If you have a homeless duty with the council then you will be housed in temporary housing and will be in Band C on the housing register. As Lambeth council explain in the Temp 2 Settled letter, in band C you may never be able to bid successfully for council housing. However in their Temp 2 Settled letter the council forget to tell you that if you choose the Temp 2 Settled route, and you are new to the waiting list, your chances of successfully bidding for council housing are very little too and you will likely have been forced out of your home borough of Lambeth.

Is the housing any better on the Temp 2 Settled scheme? (for example, is the Temp 2 Settled scheme housing better than the temporary accommodation you get when you apply for a homeless duty?)

The Temp 2 Settled scheme is mainly for homeless families. There are already legal protections for homeless families with a homeless duty for example, families can only be housed in bed and breakfast or other hostel-style accommodation for a maximum of 6 weeks by law. After this, you will likely be found self-contained private sector accommodation. This is likely to be similar to the private accommodation you are offered under the Temp 2 Settled scheme.

However we have found over the last year that Lambeth are more likely to house people somewhere in Lambeth through the Temp 2 Settled scheme (42% of placements) than through temporary housing (27% of placements).

This seems like the only clear advantage to the Temp 2 Settled scheme but why are Lambeth appearing to keep private tenancies within the borough for the Temp 2 Settled scheme? Why should someone be punished by being moved out of the area for wanting to keep the protection of a homeless duty? It is deeply worrying that Lambeth appear to be reserving in-borough housing for the Temp 2 Settled scheme and are disadvantaging those who take a homeless duty with the council.

With the Temp 2 Settled scheme, you are able to view the accommodation before accepting it, so if it is not in Lambeth you could still refuse it and continue your homeless assessment.

Why is the Temp 2 Settled scheme bad?

  • It causes unnecessary stress and confusion for homeless families at a time when they are already dealing with enough stress from homelessness.


  • It divides Lambeth’s homeless families between band B and band C on the housing waiting list – this is blatantly unfair to give some homeless families more priority than others when they have the same high level of housing need. Another inequality is that those on the Temp 2 Settled scheme appear to have a higher chance of being housed in Lambeth compared to those who get a homeless duty. This scheme increases housing inequality amongst some of the most vulnerably housed/homeless people.


  •         By accepting a place on the scheme you lose your homeless duty with Lambeth Council. This means that when the private tenancy comes to an end Lambeth will have no ongoing duty towards you. You will have to start a new homeless application. You also give up other protections/rights that you have when you make a homeless duty, for example, the ability to review the suitability of the accommodation.


  •         Because the scheme is ‘voluntary’ it has no legal protections. If Lambeth had done these private sector offers through the channel they are meant to for homeless people then you would have an automatic homeless duty for the next 2 years and your private tenancy would be for a year minimum. You also would be able to challenge unsuitable offers within 21 days. None of these protections exist under the Temp 2 Settled scheme.


  •         As mentioned before, if you are placed outside of Lambeth on the scheme you will be removed from the housing waiting list after 2 years. If you have a homeless duty with the council and are housed outside the borough in temporary housing, Lambeth are legally required to keep you on the waiting list, even if it is low down on it.


  • It helps Lambeth council hide the true number of homeless families in the borough because they are not recorded as statutory homeless duties.


What should we do about it?

The Temp 2 Settle scheme is clearly not in the interests of Lambeth’s homeless families as the many problems with it listed above show. We are campaigning to end the Temp 2 Settle scheme and return to the previous, fairer method where homeless families are provided with temporary accommodation, band B priority on the housing waiting list and can remain in temporary accommodation if they wish until they successfully bid for council housing. This is how Southwark council’s housing allocations policy and housing register works and it is fairly straightforward and easy for homeless families to understand.

We should not be forced to give up protections against further homelessness for a slim chance at getting council housing quicker. We shouldn’t be forced to gamble for secure, truly affordable council housing we all need.

Recent migrants (and others who do not already have housing register accounts and so have not accumulated time on the housing waiting list) should not be discriminated against and disadvantaged in getting council housing because they cannot get on the waiting list before becoming homeless. (If someone who was not previously on the housing register goes down the Temp 2 Settle route and are housed outside of the borough, then it is very unlikely that they will get council housing in the next 2 years, so when these 2 years are up, they will be removed from the list. If someone had been on Lambeth’s housing waiting list 2 years before becoming homeless and going down the Temp 2 Settle route and being housed out of borough, then they stand a better chance of successfully bidding for council housing before the 2 years are up.)

The lack of council housing should not be used to justify pushing homeless people out of Lambeth and ending all responsibility for them. The council should be building more council homes and should stop destroying and selling off what we already have.

Get involved in HASL to help us stop this scheme and help people access the homelessness support they need and deserve.

Case study

One of our members and her child were made homeless after their private landlord evicted them in order to get new tenants who would pay higher rent. She visited Lambeth council’s housing office to make a homeless application. Instead of a homeless assessment being opened as she had originally requested, The Temp 2 Settled route was offered to her. After a great deal of stress about what she should do, she decided that she wanted to take this route because the incentive of being in band B was important to her. She accepted a 6 month private tenancy in Southwark (and the landlord received a payment from Lambeth council for accepting her as a tenant). However, after 6 months, her landlord contacted her saying that he was going to evict her, because he wanted another payment from the council. She was absolutely distraught at facing homelessness again and after such a short period of time. Fortunately, it seems like an idle threat from the landlord, as he has not yet given her a section 21 (which he needs to do if he does want to evict her). However, if he were to go through with evicting her, she would have to visit Lambeth’s housing office yet again to make a homeless application. Again, she might be offered Temp 2 Settle and the cycle of homelessness would continue.


HASL member takes landlord to court



More often than not, our direct action casework is needed because the law is practically useless for tenants. Sometimes, however, we can take on the landlords and win.


HASL has been working closely with DC Resists – a group of residents (sadly, many are now former residents) at the beautiful Dorchester Court estate in Herne Hill. The estate had been taken over by a shady landlord company called Manaquel, who are in many ways the most extreme example of greedy, heartless profiteers of the housing crisis.


Since taking over Dorchester Court the company has raised the rents to eye-watering levels. They’ve allowed the buildings to fall into disrepair. They evicted families just because they could. In short: they destroyed a community because they could squeeze a greater profit out of their asset.


Dorchester Court didn’t roll over. They opposed Manaquel at every step, and HASL were proud to help.


HASL DC resists


When they came to evict Ravi he approached a tenant-friendly lawyer, who helped him to defeat Manaquel’s possession claim on a technicality. Manaquel tried again, and Ravi’s solicitor spotted an even more technical defence to the claim, which was rejected by Lambeth County Court on new year’s eve. Ravi appealed – and won.


Ravi argued that – because Manaquel is a company – it can’t sign documents like an ordinary person can. Instead, two authorised people have to sign all of its documents in order for the signature to comply with Section 44 of the Companies Act 2006. One of the documents (the certificate attached to the ‘prescribed information’ that landlords have to provide when they take a deposit) wasn’t properly signed, so the Section 21 notice wasn’t valid.



Tenants can only win temporarily – it’s only a matter of time before the landlord tries again.


In the private sector these technical defences are the only way of beating private landlords. It’s always worth checking – and checking carefully – whether the landlord has complied with all the technicalities that the law requires in order to take away someone’s home. HASL recommends that you see a legal aid solicitor if your landlord tries to evict you – especially because the new Deregulation Act has introduced several new technical defences.


*UPDATE* Landlord tries again – and fails!

In May 2016 the landlord issued another ‘no-fault’ eviction claim to kick Ravi out.  The landlord used the ‘accelerated procedure’, a super-quick process where the courts can take away someone’s home without a hearing.


The landlord’s solicitor had ticked a box saying that no deposit had been taken, and signed a statement saying that the contents of the form were true.  In fact the first Section 21 claim had been dismissed because the landlord had taken a deposit but failed to protect it.  The landlords were asking the court to evict Ravi on the basis of information that was plain wrong.


The court was unimpressed with Ravi’s landlord’s solicitors and struck their claim out, telling them to start again.

Press release: Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth win right to be accompanied at the housing office

HASL buddy leaflet

HASL buddy leaflet

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have received confirmation from Southwark council that people visiting the housing office can have someone to accompany them for all meetings and interviews.  The group had written an open letter to Southwark council in March about people’s right to be accompanied at the housing office after members  of HASL experienced disrespect from staff, been unlawfully denied a homelessness assessment, and had been refused a supporter  to accompany them to a homelessness interview.

In response to HASL’s letter, where they raised their concerns about the treatment of homeless people in Peckham housing office, Councillor Richard Livingstone confirmed: “I therefore can confirm that we think it is reasonable for customers to be accompanied to homelessness interviews by their representatives, friends, or family.” HASL considers this as a small victory in their campaign against gatekeeping and the culture of disrespect at Peckham housing office.

Liz Wyatt, a member of HASL said: “Our members have faced appalling treatment by staff at Peckham housing office and we are deeply concerned about the culture of disrespect, intimidation, misinformation and gatekeeping that homeless people trying to access the help they need are subjected to.  Our members have been wrongly sent away without being given a homelessness assessment and they have been refused a supporter with them at a homeless interview.

“Now that we have it in writing that we have the right to have a supporter with us at the housing office, we hope that this will be respected. From our experience, having someone with you at the housing office is vital for moral support in these stressful and difficult times, helping you to know your rights, and making sure you get access to the help you need and deserve. We want people to know that you don’t have to struggle alone.”

A number of high profile court cases involving Southwark council have also highlighted some of the problems people face when trying to access help from Southwark council. In February a high court judge ordered Southwark council “to cease with immediate effect the policies and practices” that saw them turn away homeless people without conducting a homelessness assessment. In a landmark ruling last month, the Supreme Court said that councils must do more to help single homeless people. Patrick Kanu, who challenged Southwark council all the way to the Supreme Court after Southwark deemed him not vulnerable enough to receive help, died from his illness shortly after his victory in the Supreme Court.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have made a new leaflet informing people of their right to be accompanied at the housing office and about getting involved in the group where they can find a buddy to accompany them to the housing office. They will be launching this leaflet this Friday with an information stall outside Peckham housing office on Bournemouth road from 12pm.


Effortless evictions: the Deregulation Act 2015

In 1988, Section 21 of the Housing Act drove a bulldozer through decades of carefully considered law about the circumstances in which an eviction was fair or justified.  Under Section 21, all a landlord has to do to seize a family’s home is serve the correct notice.  In 2004, in response to landlords’ increasingly abusive demands for tenancy deposits, the government introduced compulsory deposit protection schemes.

The courts were clearly aware of the shocking power imbalance between private landlords and their precariously housed tenants, and they took the opportunity to interpret the tenancy deposit laws quite strictly.  As the result of a case called Superstrike v Rodrigues landlords were required to comply with the deposit protection regulations for a second time if a tenant stayed on after the end of a ‘fixed term’ tenancy, otherwise the landlord’s Section 21 notice would be invalid.

However, the government decided that this was too onerous a task for the people who sit there profiting from people’s basic need for a home.  In order to exploit the housing crisis for profit with minimum inconvenience, the government has now eased the regulations through the Deregulation Act 2015. It comes into effect this week.

Landlords no longer need to overcome the small hurdle of re-protecting a deposit, and giving their tenants information about the scheme again.  Landlords argued that this simple act of regulatory compliance was a ‘loophole’, and that they shouldn’t possibly be expected to put up with it.  For many tenants it was the only argument available: the only thing standing between their homes and the oppressive regime of indefensible (in both a legal and a moral sense) ‘no-fault evictions’.

The massive harm of Section 21 on housing does not need to be explained in detail.  The housing crisis speaks for itself.  The law treats houses as landlords’ financial assets rather than people’s homes, and the effects of that are clear in the extortionate rents, precarious leases and poor housing conditions that so many people have no choice but to endure.

A brief glimmer of hope – a viable defence to ‘no fault’ evictions’ – has been put out.

In addition, although the government has also passed a new law that makes it more difficult to evict people who have complained about the condition of their home (‘revenge evictions’), they have not said when they will bring it into force.  The two laws were two parts of the same Act of Parliament, but the government rushed through the section that helps landlords and sat on the bit that helped tenants. The government knows which side its bread is buttered, and it’s not the millions of victims of the housing crisis whose interests they have in mind.

Without security of tenure, tenants’ rights are worthless.

Abolish Section 21! Secure homes for all!

Bedroom Tax Loophole

Getting a Refund and Our Letter to Lambeth and Southwark Council

You have probably read in the news about the bedroom tax loophole which means that tenants in social housing of working age who have lived in their home since 1 January 1996 and had a continuous Housing Benefit claim should have been made exempt from the bedroom tax. If this is the case for you, you are entitled to a refund of the bedroom tax payments you have made since April 2013. If you had a continuous housing benefit claim but were forced to move due to domestic violence or damage caused by fire, flooding, explosions then the exemption still applies to you. The government are tying up the loop-hole so from March onwards, the bedroom tax will be back in place. The deadline for appealing is May. The loophole may give some people a slight reprieve, so we’ll keep on organising against all the brutal welfare and housing cuts.

If you think you may be due a refund, follow the good advice below copied from Leeds Hands Off Our Homes. There is a template appeal letter that you can use here. Come along to our next meeting on Thursday 13th February at Southwyck Community Hall, Moorlands road, Brixton, SW9 8TT.

What to Do if You Think You Are Owed a Refund.

  • Print out a copy of the DWP Internal bulletin on the 1996 loophole.

  • Gather as much information about your tenancy as you can-  letters, contracts etc. It may be that councils/housing providers do not keep accurate records of tenancies going that far back – any paperwork  and evidence of your tenancy you have will be vital here.

  • Contact or go to the central housing office with a copy of the DWP bulletin and as much information as you can get on your tenancy. Ask them for your housing benefit to be reassessed in light of the DWP bulletin and your evidence.

So far we know of several tenants who have done this. One was told that it would take 3 weeks for him to get a response, but the government guidance here is clear; until the law is amended, certain people are exempt from the bedroom tax.

Finally, this is not a solution to the problem of the policy, nor the Welfare Reform Act in total. But it might help a few people stay in their homes. For everyone else, we’re not giving up.


Useful advice here and here. If you’re supporting tenants to whom this applies, this letter may be useful:. All of this advice was initially published on the Leeds Hands Off Our Homes site.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have contacted both Lambeth and Southwark council to ask them what action they are taking to inform affected tenants of their exemption and refund. The letter we sent them is published below:

Dear Lib Peck, Pete Robbins, Peter John, Ian Wingfield and Richard Livingstone
You will be aware of the bedroom tax loophole which was discovered recently meaning that tenants who have lived in their property since 1 January 1996 and have been eligible for housing benefit for all of that time are exempt from the bedroom tax under the present regulations (the government will tie-up this loophole in March). We understand that the Department of Work and Pensions has sent a circular to local authorities stating that exempted tenants should be refunded all money deducted under the policy since 1 April 2013.
Please can you tell us:
How many people in Lambeth/Southwark you have estimated to be due a refund because they have lived in their property since 1 January 1996 and had a continuous Housing Benefit claim?
What steps you are taking to ensure that you contact these people and support them in claiming a refund for the wrongly applied bedroom tax?
What compensation will be offered to people who were forced to move out of their home (and the stress and suffering they will have experienced because of this) but should have been exempt from the bedroom tax?
We look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely,
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth