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

May 9th, 2022 by James Goudie QC 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 QC 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 QC 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.

 

 

Fixed-Term Tenancies

March 11th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Croydon LBC v Kalonga (2022) UKSC 7 the Supreme Court considered a local housing authority seeking possession of a secure tenancy. An unexpired fixed term is not subject to termination under Section 82(1)(b) of the Housing Act 1985 unless and until, by forfeiture or otherwise, the landlord has an existing right to terminate early under the tenancy (1) which has become exercisable and (2) any requisite steps have been taken.

 

HMOs – Pinto v Welwyn Hatfield BC (2022) UKUT 47 (LC)

February 24th, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Pinto v Welwyn Hatfield BC (2022) UKUT 47 (LC) concerned the penalty imposed by a local housing authority for managing or being in control of a house in multiple occupation without a licence. The Upper Tribunal says that the term “sufficient evidence”, in paragraph 2(1) of Schedule 13A to the Housing Act 2004, read together with Section 249A, means evidence which is sufficient to prove the commission of the offence to the criminal standard, that is beyond reasonable doubt.

 

 

Homelessness: Minolta v Cambridge City Council (2022)

February 21st, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Housing

When may a local housing authority in England refuse to entertain a second homelessness application which purports to be a fresh application?  That was the question in Minolta v Cambridge City Council (2022) EWCA Civ 159.  Answer: only when the new application is identical to the previous application, that is based on exactly the same facts, disregarding only fanciful allegations and trivial facts.

The authority’s enquiry falls into two stages.  Stage One: is it, on the above basis, an application at all?  Stage 2: If so, is the application well founded?  At Stage 2, if it is reached, there is no short cut for the authority.  It must carry out the enquiries referred to in Section 184 of the Housing Act 1996.

 

Rough Sleepers

January 21st, 2022 by James Goudie QC in Housing

R (ZLL) v SoS (2022) EWHC 85 (Admin) concerns rough sleepers and the covid pandemic. The claimant alleged a breach of public law duty by adopting an unpublished position in non- conformity with previously published policy. In relation to this ground, Fordham J stated some relevant basic legal points including the following :-

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Houses in Multiple Occupation: December 2021

December 9th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in General, Housing

In Palmview Estates v Thurrock Council (2021) EWCA Civ 1871 the Court of Appeal consider the “reasonable excuse” defence in Section 75 (2) of the Housing Act 2004. There is a defence if, viewed objectively, there is reasonable excuse for having control of or managing a HMO without a licence. The reasonable excuse must relate to the activity of controlling or managing the HMO without a licence.

 

 

HOMELESSNESS AND JOB PROSPECTS

November 26th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The evidence relating to intentional homelessness is evidence bearing on the reason why the applicant is homeless. The local authority’s investigation duties relate to homelessness, not unemployment. An appreciation of local job prospects is relevant only insofar as it explains why it is that the applicant is homeless. It is not necessarily relevant to the applicant’s homelessness. There may, or may not, be a sufficient linkage between them. The duty to investigate is to make necessary enquiries. It is not a duty to make all possible enquiries. So held in Ciftci v Haringey LBC (2021) EWCA Civ 1772.

 

Use of Private Rented Sector

November 12th, 2021 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Hajjaj v Westminster and Akhter v Waltham Forest (2021) EWCA Civ 1688 address the use by local housing authorities of the private rented sector in accordance with Sections 148 and 149 of the Localism Act 2011 to bring to an end the main homelessness duty under Section 193(2) in Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. The main question was in what circumstances accommodation should be regarded as not suitable to form the subject of a valid private rented sector offer (PRSO). This is governed by Article 3 of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012. Accommodation shall not be regarded as suitable where one or more of ten listed conditions applies.

Bean LJ says, at para 70, that suitability is a “multi-faceted concept”. It includes size, location, accessibility, if the applicant is elderly or disabled, as well as the physical condition and other matters. The authority must be satisfied that none of the ten bars to suitability established by Article 3 applies. They must be “satisfied on the basis of evidence rather than assumptions”. He adds, at para 72, that satisfactory hearsay evidence may be enough.