Fit and Proper Person

September 13th, 2022 by James Goudie QC 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 QC 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 QC 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 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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