Homelessness Cases of Interest
Since the last housing newsletter, there has been a number of homelessness cases reported.
1. DAVIS v WATFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL  EWCA Civ 529
On a proper interpretation of the Housing Act 1996 s.204A(1), which concerned a right of appeal to the County Court against a local housing authority’s decision on a review, there had to be “a decision on a review” to trigger the county court’s jurisdiction. The words of the provision could not possibly include a situation where there had been no decision. The proper remedy in the latter situation was to commence judicial review proceedings in the High Court.
Michael Paget and Zoë Whittington appeared for the local authority and their update on the case can be read here.
2. ROTHER DISTRICT COUNCIL v STEPHEN FREEMAN-ROACH  EWCA Civ 368
When reviewing a decision as to whether a duty was owed by a local authority to a homeless person, and whether that person had “a priority need” under the Housing Act 1996 s.189(1)(c), the local authority was not required to establish that the reviewing officer had applied the correct test. Tt was for the applicant to show that he had not.
3. JESSE PANAYIOTOU v WALTHAM FOREST LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL: STEVEN SMITH v HARINGEY LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL  EWCA Civ 1624
The Court considered the meaning of the term ‘significantly’ as referred to in Hotak v Southwark LBC  UKSC 30 for the purpose of determining whether a person was ‘vulnerable’ within the meaning of the Housing Act 1996 s.189(1)(c).
David Lintott appeared for Waltham Forest LBC.
4. ADRIAN DOKA v SOUTHWARK LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL  EWCA Civ 1532
The appellant’s occupation of a room in his former employer’s house did not amount to “settled accommodation” despite the fact that it lasted for two years. There had therefore been no break in the chain of causation between his present state of homelessness and an eviction (amounting to intentional homelessness) which predated his occupation of the room.
5. R (on the application of LINDSAY) v (1) WATFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL (defendant) (2) HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL (Interested party) QBD (Admin) (Jonathan Swift QC) 13/10/2017
An interim order was granted to a claimant requiring the defendant local authority to provide her with suitable accommodation pending her application for judicial review to determine if the local authority had breached its obligation to provide her with accommodation under the Housing Act 1996 s.188(1).
Michael Paget appeared for Watford BC. This case can be found on Lawtel.
6. MARGHERITA VUKASOVIC v BRENT LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL CC (Central London) (Judge Luba QC) 06/10/2017
Brent LBC had not acted unlawfully in offering a homeless woman with mental health difficulties privately rented accommodation in Wolverhampton. The reviewing officer made a finding of fact.
That it was not reasonably practicable to provide her with suitable accommodation in-borough or in and around the local authority’s area. It was further not irrational of the officer to hold that the appellant was not within para. 4.2.3 of the Placement Policy and that the offered accommodation was suitable for her. Moreover, the reviewing officer had had regard to the interests of the appellant’s son, who would have to move to a new school.
Matt Hutchings QC appeared for the local authority and the judgment can be accessed through his case update here.
7. DACORUM BOROUGH COUNCIL v CHENALEE BUCKNALL (FORMERLY CHENALEE ACHEAMPONG)  EWHC 2094 (QB)
The appellant, who had applied for homelessness assistance, had been occupying the property in which she lived “as a dwelling” at the time when she was served with notice to quit, with the result that she was entitled to the procedural protections provided for by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. She had not occupied the property as a dwelling while the local authority was performing its interim housing duty, but the position changed when the local authority acknowledged its full housing duty and allowed her to stay in the property while it searched for suitable permanent accommodation.
Matt Hutchings QC and Jack Parker appeared for the local authority.