Allocation Schemes

May 27th, 2021 by James Goudie KC

Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 deals with the allocation of permanent social housing. Every local housing authority has to have in place allocation scheme. This must be framed so as to secure that a “reasonable preference” is given to certain persons. These include those occupying overcrowded accommodation.

Can an application from such a person be refused because an authority’s allocation scheme purports to provide that, subject to limited exceptions, applicants will qualify for an allocation only if they have arrived in the authority’s area for not less than 5 years? Yes, says Henshaw J in R (Monteiro) v Lewisham LBC (2021) EWHC 1355 (Admin).

This was a lawful disqualification. The legislation does not prohibit a disqualification criterion that affects some persons falling within the reasonable preference category, provided that, viewed as a whole, the scheme does give reasonable preference to that category of person.

Henshaw J said, at paras 64-68 inc, that, whereas the power to set disqualification criteria is subject to reasonable preference requirements, it does not follow that there can be no disqualification of any person in a reasonable preference category, and that reasonable preference does not mean that every person in a reasonable preference category must have priority over every person that does not.

It is permissible for particular groups of applicant falling outside the reasonable preference groups to be given greater priority than those within the reasonable preference categories, provided that the former “do not dominate the scheme” at the expense of the latter. The use of a qualifying criterion based on LOCAL RESIDENCE is not fundamentally at odds with the gist or purpose of the reasonable preference requirement.

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