Care Act or Housing Act?

January 10th, 2023 by James Goudie KC in Housing

R (Campbell)v EALING LBC (2023) EWHC 10 (Admin) concerns the withdrawal of funding of temporary accommodation and the  interaction and interplay between a unitary  local authority’s obligations under the Care Act 2014 and its obligations under Parts VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996. The lawfulness of the Council’s funding of the Claimant’s accommodation was at the centre of the case. Section 23 of the Care Act prohibited the meeting of a housing need that is required to be met under the Housing Act. Although the need for accommodation is not a need for care and support under the Care Act, local authorities have a power to provide accommodation under the Care Act in circumstances where accommodation is required to deliver care and support effectively. This power is not however unfettered. It does not extend to scenarios in which Section 23 bites. The Council had obligations under Part VI of the Housing Act under which the Claimant was a qualifying person and duly placed on the Council’s housing register. The Council owed duties to the Claimant under Part VII, but he wanted to pursue a Part VI process.

 

Indirect discrimination in allocation

January 10th, 2023 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In R(TX) v Adur District Council (2022) EWHC 3340 (Admin) the Court held that the Council’s local connection criterion for priority, albeit expressed neutrally, was  discriminatory, disproportionate, and unlawful. It put women at a disadvantage. Women were significantly more likely to be victims of domestic abuse and as a result have to move to the area of another local housing authority.

 

Overcrowding

October 24th, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In ROWE v HARINGEY LBC (2022) EWCA Civ 1370 the Council refused an application under Section 184(1) of the Housing Act 1996, on the ground of overcrowding, for housing assistance, by an applicant who lived with her two young children in a house in multiple occupation (HMO). They had exclusive use of one bedroom. They shared with four other adults a communal kitchen and bathroom. The Council considered that she was snot overcrowded according to the room and space standards in Sections 325 and 326 of the Housing Act 1985 and that it was reasonable for her to continue to occupy under Section 175(3) of the 1996 Act.

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Homelessness – Norton v Haringey LBC

October 21st, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

Section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 is the full housing duty owed by local housing authorities to some homeless. Subsection (1) applies where an applicant is (i) homeless, (ii) eligible for assistance, (iii) in priority need, and (iv) not homeless intentionally. Subsection (2) then provides that, absent reference to another authority, the authority shall secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant. The discharge of this duty is subject to a number of technical requirements. Some of these requirements have been considered by the Court of Appeal in NORTON v HARINGEY LBC (2022) EWCA Civ 1340. In that case the question was whether Haringey had discharged the Section 193(2) duty by making a private sector rented offer of accommodation.

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Fit and Proper Person

September 13th, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In Hussain v Waltham Forest Council (2022) UKUT 241 (LC) it is held that on the question whether someone is a “fit and proper person” to hold a licence under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 the FTT should take into account evidence that tended to show unsuitability, whether or not the matters were known to the local housing authority at the time of their licence application refusal decision.

 

Intentional homelessness

July 1st, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

When a homeless person applies to a local housing authority (LHA) for accommodation, the LHA needs to decide whether the applicant has become homeless intentionally. That may be the case if the applicant was evicted from their “last settled accommodation” for non-payment of rent which was affordable for them. Affordability depends on whether the applicant could have been able both to pay the rent and meet their “reasonable living expenses”.  In BAPTIE v KINGSTON UPON THAMES RLBC (2022) EWCA Civ 888 the LHA decided that both could have been done. The question raised by the appeal was whether that affordability decision was unlawful, because it was based on an irrational approach to the assessment of the applicant’s reasonable living expenses. The decision was ruled to have been lawful.

The Association of Housing Advice Services (AHAS) has produced Guidance, “Evidence base for cost of living and guidance for caseworkers”.  The LHA’s Review Officer had not erred in relying on it.  It was reliable objective evidence to which a Review Officer could have regard. SAMUELS v BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL (2019) UKSC 28 is not authority to the contrary. See paragraphs 50-54 and 60-63 of the Judgment of Warby LJ, which with Asplin and Peter Jackson LLH agreed.

 

Human Rights – R (Z) v Hackney LBC

June 17th, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In R (Z) v Hackney LBC (2020) UKSC 40, (2020) P.T.S.R. 1830, the Supreme Court held that a charitable housing association’s allocation policy, which effectively means that it allocated housing only to applicants from the Orthodox Jewish community, including some nominated by the local authority, was a legitimate and  proportionate means of meeting the housing needs of members of that community authority’s area, and was therefore not unlawfully discriminatory.

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Homelessness – R (Elkundi) v Birmingham City Council and R (Imam) v Croydon LBC

May 9th, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In joined cases (2022) EWCA Civ 601, R (Elkundi) v Birmingham City Council and R (Imam) v Croydon LBC the principal issue in the Birmingham case was the nature of the duty owed by local authorities (LHAs to homeless persons, under Section 193(2) of the Housing Act 1966 (the 1966 Act), which provides that a LHA shall secure that accommodation is available for the applicant; and the sole issue in the second case concerned the circumstances in which a Court may, in the exercise of its discretion refuse a mandatory order to enforce a duty owed under Section 193(2).

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Protected Characteristics

April 1st, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In Biden v Waverley BC (2022) EWCA Civ 442 the Court of Appeal is concerned with sufficiency of enquiries made to determine the suitability of accommodation offered to a homeless applicant with protected characteristics of disability and gender reassignment. At para 48 Macur LJ says that the enquiries to be made are those “necessary fairly to make a decision” regarding the suitability of accommodation for the applicant. Subject to this, the “scope and scale” of the necessary inquiries to be made by a local housing authority is a matter for them. The Court should not intervene unless satisfied that no reasonable authority could have been satisfied on the basis of the inquiries made. Asplin and Coulson LJJ agreed.

 

HMOs – Global 100 Ltd v Jimenez (2022) UKUT 50 (LC)

March 29th, 2022 by James Goudie KC in Housing

In Global 100 Ltd v Jimenez (2022) UKUT 50 (LC), a case on “property guardians” and the definition of Houses in Multiple Occupation in Section 254(2) of the Housing Act 2004, the Upper Tribunal says, at para 15, that: “Effective regulation and action by local housing authorities to reduce risks to the health and wellbeing of residents of repurposed or converted living accommodation is as an important an objective as it has ever been.” It is “important” that the statutory definition of HMO is not interpreted so narrowly as to frustrate the achievement of the statutory purpose. See also para 46.