The bedroom tax – why to and how to appeal

Joe Halewood /   June 29, 2015 at 8:34 PM 162 views

I believe every tenant should make a formal appeal against the bedroom tax decision and I also believe every tenant has just cause to appeal. If a tenant appeals they have SOME hope. If the tenant doesn’t they have NONE. Advocating tenants appeal is not giving false hope as it is their ONLY hope. Other reasons WHY tenants should appeal are as follows: 1. The tenant has an absolute right to appeal and an absolute right to be heard in the appeal tribunal. The tenant has the chance to have their say in court which is a powerful incentive and the tenant has nothing to lose by making an appeal. 2. The bedroom tax decision-making process gave decisions based on the ease and cost of making the decision and not on making the correct decision. That is simply not acceptable and frankly an outrage. 3. The tenant is under immense levels of stress worrying about the impact of the bedroom tax. Admittedly easy for me to say but channel that stress into a focus on a solution rather than on the problems it will cause. It’s is much better to at least try to find a solution in the limited time available to appeal than to regret not appealing when it is too late. HOW to appeal is one of two ways. You can fill out a standard form or write a letter. The Govan Law Centre has produced a bedroom tax appeal toolkit which shows how to use the standard form and what you should include in the legal grounds of appeal and why you should use them. There are also procedural grounds of appeal the tenant should use, or in simple terms HOW the decision was made which was on ease of administration and the lowest cost possible instead of the correct decision being made. I discussed these procedural grounds at length here. The tenant appeal letter or form is sent to your council and they can take 3 options: (a)   They can reconsider your decision based on the grounds of appeal and agree to them, or (b)   They can agree the appeal is valid and send the appeal straight to the tribunal, or (c)    They can say the appeal grounds are not valid and send them to the tribunal to make a decision on whether they are valid or not. The tenant appeal grounds or reasons whether on the form or by letter need to give enough information on why you are appealing. They don’t need to be the full ‘chapter and verse’ of each appeal reason at this stage but they do need to be reason enough for the appeal to go to the tribunal. The tenant is free to add much more detail to the tribunal in writing ahead of the appeal date and at the tribunal hearing itself. The tribunal covers this in their brochure entitled “How to Appeal.” There are a number of practical things the tenant should be doing. Practice writing down the reasons why you’re appealing and the GLC bedroom tax toolkit puts this as if you wish to appeal on ground ‘X’ you may want to write this wording and gives examples. That same method or format is useful and a good guide on what to do. Alternatively, another way to go about this is that you could write out your full argument on each ground or reason and then a summary of that and include the summary of each ground or reason on the appeal form or letter. For example you could simply write on the appeal that: – The council has failed to give due regard to the issue of bedroom size in making the decision to apply the under occupation charge or bedroom tax. Such wording is a summary and the full reasons for that summary you should write down and much of this is included in my lengthy post here. Remember that whatever reasons or grounds you put down in summary form on the appeal you will need to be able to argue at the tribunal. I have just been alerted to another toolkit from Carers UK which is here and again is well worth a look in explaining how and why to appeal. In summary, whatever level of hope the tenant appeal has, even if it is just 1%, it is much higher than if you don’t appeal. The tenant has nothing to lose by appealing and it costs you nothing. The more tenants that do appeal the greater the chance of the government having to look again at the bedroom tax policy given the costs and disruption this will cause to councils, social and private landlords and the judiciary. The arguments of the House of Lords and MPs were dismissed, the landlords have little power to change or challenge the bedroom tax. Yet the tenant does and especially if as many appeal as possible. Don’t be dissuaded from appealing by landlord’s argument as they do have a vested interest in tenants not appealing. Or by councils such as Cornwall Council disgracefully stating the tenant has no right of appeal. You do have an absolute right of appeal and should use that right. Courtesy of Joe Halewood at SPeye

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