June 14th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

In Samuels v Birmingham City Council (2019) UKSC 28 the Supreme Court quashed the Council’s decision that Ms Samuels was intentionally homeless, on the ground that her accommodation was affordable and reasonable for her to continue to occupy, and that its loss was the result of her deliberate act in failing to pay the rent.  The central issue was whether the Council adopted the correct approach in determining that the accommodation was “affordable” for the purposes of Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, Article 2 of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) Order 1996, and the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities. The Council was required to take into account all Ms Samuels’ sources of income, including all social security benefits, and to consider all her reasonable living expenses. The question ought to have been what her reasonable living expenses, other than rent, were. This should have been determined having regard to her needs and those of her children.

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