February 28th, 2020 by James Goudie KC

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.

However, such a reasonable time may be relevant to relief.  In this case, the family had occupied their current accommodation for more than 2 years.  “No real coherent thought had been given to their situation and very little had been done to assist them.” “No satisfactory explanation was given for the delay.”  No offer of suitable alternative accommodation had been made. The “deficiencies in the current accommodation were serious in terms of their nature and effect”.  The authority had been in breach of its statutory duty “for a considerable time”.  The authority’s efforts to find suitable accommodation had been “unsatisfactory to the point at which it does not appear to be taking the claimant’s case seriously”.

The Judge made not only a declaration, but also a mandatory order, giving the authority 12 weeks to secure that suitable accommodation is available to the family.

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