Intentional homelessness

July 1st, 2022 by James Goudie KC

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.

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