Disabled Facilities

April 3rd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

R (McKeown) v Islington LBC (2020) EWHC 779 (Admin) quashes a refusal by the Council of Disabled Facilities Grant under the Housing Grants etc Act 1996. An application by a council tenant must be treated on the same basis as an application by an owner occupier. It is irrelevant whether the accommodation is suitable for a disabled person.

 

Homelessness Appeals

April 2nd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In James v Hertsmere BC (2020) EWCA 489 rules that the scope of Section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 on appeal to the County Court on point of law in homelessness cases extends to the full range of issues that would otherwise be the subject of an application to the Administrative Court for judicial review. The Court also held that when there is constitutionally  delegated  authority to extend an intra vires contract, such as a contract that contracts out the Section 202 review function, then, if the extension may not have been done validly at the time, it can be ratified.

 

HMOs

April 2nd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

A local authority had been entitled to impose on the holder of a licence under a Selective Licensing Scheme pursuant to Section 90 of the Housing Act 2004 a condition requiring him to undergo a training course on how to manage tenancies. So held in Berg v Burnley BC (2020) UKUT 91 (LC).

 

Intentional Homelessness

March 26th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

LB v TOWER HAMLETS LBC (2020) EWCA Civ 439 is concerned with the lawfulness of the local authority’s decision on a review under Section 202 of the Housing Act 1996. McCombe LJ, with whom Floyd and Coulson LJ agreed, said, at para 24, that Section 191 of the Act, on intentional homelessness, is directed to the time when the applicant did or failed to do something which resulted in them ceasing to occupy accommodation and then to whether it would have been reasonable to continue to occupy. He added, at para 27, that the reviewing officer should not limit the review by reference to circumstances acting at the date of the deliberate action or inaction alone. All the circumstances, both before that date, and matters thereafter, up to the date of the review, should be considered. He concluded, at para 31, that while the question of whether it is reasonable for a person to continue to occupy premises which they deliberately ceased to occupy is to be assessed at or about the time of the act in question, the assessment needs to be informed by all relevant matters, including events that may occur up to the date of the authority’s review decision. The Court also considered Section 177 of the 1996 Act, on domestic abuse.

 

HMOs

March 23rd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

The manager of a house in multiple occupation charged with committing an offence has the burden of establishing, on the balance of probabilities, the defence of reasonable excuse under Section 234(3) of the Housing Act 2004. So held in  IR MANAGEMENT  LTD v SALFORD CITY COUNCIL (2020) UKUT 81 (LC).

 

Judicial Review

March 20th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In R ( NOLSON ) v STEVENAGE BOROUGH COUNCIL (2020) EWCA 379, at paragraph 18, the Court of Appeal, per Hickinbottom LJ, gives important guidance on applications, including not least applications for interim relief.

 

Homelessness

February 28th, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

A family are homeless, but not intentionally. They are in priority need. The local housing authority has (1) made a decision that their existing accommodation is not “suitable” for their needs and (2) accepted that it has a duty, under Section 193(2) of the Housing Act 1996, to provide accommodation.  In AM v Newham (2020) EWIC 327 (Admin) it is held by Linden J, following a review of the relevant case law, that the authority is in continuing breach of its duty if it leaves them in their existing accommodation, even for a short period, and even if a reasonable time is required in which to secure suitable alternative accommodation.

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Delay in Bringing Homelessness Appeal

February 3rd, 2020 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Ahmed v Tower Hamlets LBC (2020) EWCA Civ 51 the Court of Appeal considered the approach to be adopted towards the assessment of a “good reason” for delay in bringing an appeal under Section 204 of the Housing Act 1996 against an adverse review decision under the homelessness provisions of that Act, in circumstances where the reason put forward for the delay is that the applicant was unrepresented and was seeking legal aid. The time limit for bringing such an appeal is 21 days, and that (paragraph 35) remains the “basic rule”. The Court of Appeal said that (1) the “good reason” requirement provides a straightforward statutory test to which no gloss is or should be applied: paragraph 24; (2) the Mitchell/Denton principles should not be applied to the assessment: paragraph 29; (3) difficulties in obtaining legal aid and representation should be taken into account and given appropriate weight: paragraph 34; (4) when these are put forward as a reason for non-compliance with the time limit, the circumstances will need to be examined with care: paragraph 35; and (5) even if the Court is satisfied as to “good reason” that simply opens up a discretion to allow an appeal to be brought out of time, taking account of all relevant considerations, including the position of the local authority: ibid.

 

Water and Sewerage Charges

December 3rd, 2019 by James Goudie QC in Housing

Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames v Moss (2019) EWHC 3261 (Ch) was concerned with council houses and flats where the supply of water is not metered, and where the water authority does not bill the council tenants, but does bill the Council. Mr Moss, a secure tenant, was obliged to pay “water charges” to the Council, his landlord. The issue was as to the calculation of those charges, pursuant to the tenancy Read more »

 

Homelessness

November 20th, 2019 by James Goudie QC in Housing

In Waltham Forest LBC v Saleh (2019) EWCA Civ 1944 the Court of Appeal held that, in conducting a review of a homelessness decision the review officer had to reconsider the decision in the light of all the relevant circumstances at the date of the review, and was not limited to a reconsideration of the facts as they stood at the date of the original decision. For that reason, a review officer who was asked to reconsider a decision to provide accommodation for a family outside the local housing authority’s own district ought to have taken account of the availability, as at the date of review, of any suitable accommodation either within or closer to that district.