Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of evictions from Home Office asylum accommodation for those who have refugee status.
This is difficult in itself, but what has made it harder is the very short notice people receive. Where people typically have 28 days of notice before they have to move on from their asylum accommodation, in reality they have been getting as little as 9 days or even a week’s notice from the Home Office to find somewhere new to live.
This blog will explain what is happening, why it is happening, and some steps that can be taken to improve your situation or at least respond to a notice of eviction.
If you would like to learn more about asylum support and accommodation, you can read our detailed Toolkit page.
To learn more about this topic, do take a look at the incredible work of the Asylum Support Appeals Project, and this blog by Free Movement. This article draws on the information provided by both organisations.
What is happening?
Thousands of people in Home Office hotel accommodation have been pushed into or are at risk of experiencing homelessness because of a subtle shift in how the Home Office has been applying its own policy in the last month. This is very worrying.
Since August 2023, people with refugee status (this means their asylum claim has been accepted by the Home Office) have been receiving ‘Notices to Quit’ their hotel asylum accommodation within very short periods of time – sometimes even as little as a week. A Notice to Quit is a letter from the Home Office that states that the person has finished their time in the asylum accommodation and will need to find somewhere new to live within a certain period of time.
The very small window of time that people have been given in these Notices to Quit has made their lives very difficult and created many big problems. When you receive refugee status, this comes with many new changes, and these changes can be overwhelming. For example:
- When someone is given a short window of time to move out of hotel accommodation (somewhere they may have lived for a long time), it means that they do not have the chance to make a homelessness application in time to the local authority. This means that they could face homelessness for days or even weeks before the local authority can place them in a new property.
- This is also a big issue because local authorities will not usually accept a homelessness application unless there is proof that the person has been evicted. So, refugees cannot pre-empt (take action earlier) this issue because they need to wait until they receive the Notice to Quit letter before they can make a homelessness application.
- When someone is given a very short window of time until their asylum allowance is stopped, they can be left destitute and without any money because applications for Universal Credit (a type of benefit) take about 5 weeks to process.
- Another issue is that while councils have an obligation to provide emergency accommodation to families with children, adults who do not have children may not be eligible for that support and are at risk of finding themselves homeless.
For an outline of how the eviction process should happen, including a step-by-step guide to the documents people should be receiving, read this Free Movement blog.
Why is this happening?
This is all happening because the Home Office is now applying its own policy about asylum support very strictly. So, it is not exactly a new policy, but instead the Home Office is interpreting things more strictly and did not provide a warning that it would be doing so.
Generally, if a person had section 95 support while they were waiting for an asylum decision, they remain entitled to it for 28 days after they receive a grant of refugee status, or for 21 days if their asylum claim is refused by the Home Office.
Until August 2023, the Home Office was not applying this policy very strictly and so many people who received refugee status were able to stay in hotels for longer than the 21/28 day period.
Now, the Home Office is applying this policy to people who receive(d) refugee status, and they are now given a minimum of 7 days’ notice to move on from the accommodation. However, the Home Office is also applying this to asylum allowance (weekly allowance) too. Access to asylum accommodation and financial support will end on the same day. This applies to section 95 and section 4 support.
This is an extremely difficult situation for people to be in, and is an extension of the Hostile Environment: even when people have obtained status and the Home Office has accepted their claim, they are not eased into society but rather placed at risk of homelessness.
Although we wish we could do more, below are a number of steps that people can take to (slightly) improve their situation or at least address it.
What can be done about it?
These are suggestions for potential steps you can take to resolve the issue of eviction from hotel accommodation.
- Ask for an extension of asylum support. You can do this if you have received a grant of refugee status. You can do this by contacting Migrant Help.
- Appeal the decision. If you have received a refusal of your asylum claim, you can appeal the decision (whether or not you have a lawyer). In order to appeal, a person needs a copy of their discontinuation letter. If you have not received a decision letter, you can request it from Migrant Help on CopySupportDecisions@migranthelpuk.org. To learn about how to appeal, read our detailed Toolkit page on Preparing for an Appeal here. People who appeal their asylum refusal are still considered to be ‘in the system’ and are typically entitled to section 4 support.
- Appeal to the Asylum Support Tribunal. There may be grounds for an appeal on the revocation (this means the ending) of your asylum support. To find out more about asylum appeals, browse the resources on the Asylum Support Appeals Project’s website here. If you are a second-tier advice giver, you can contact their advice line on 020 3716 0283 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 2pm–4pm.
- If you work with/support people who are experiencing this issue, please do keep track of this information and share it with your community, as well as what steps you are taking to address the issue and support those affected. Knowledge sharing is power. Now more than ever, our radical solidarity is essential.
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