The Court of Appeal has held that when determining whether a housing applicant and her family should be treated as homeless on the basis that it was unreasonable to expect them to continue to live in their current accommodation, the local authority must consider whether the continued occupation was reasonable for the foreseeable future, as well as the present.
The applicant (Ms Safi) had occupied a one-bedroom flat but, after marrying and having a baby, applied to the local authority (Sandwell Borough Council) for bigger accommodation. She later became pregnant for a second time. Her application was rejected and this decision was upheld by two review panels. It was held that (1) the family was on the housing register and was likely to be rehoused within a reasonable time if it was more flexible, and (2) it was reasonable for the family to continue to occupy their current flat. This was upheld by the County Court, which concluded that Ms Safi was not homeless and that Sandwell Borough Council had no duty under the Housing Act 1996 to provide her with suitable accommodation. Ms Safi appealed.
The Court of Appeal, in allowing the appeal, held that Sandwell Borough Council (1) did not properly consider that the birth of a second child would make it unreasonable for the family to continue to live in the flat, and (2) had failed to inform Ms Safi that she had the right to make written representations, and provide her with the procedure for doing so.
The ruling highlights the need for housing authorities to ensure that they consider all relevant circumstances when assessing “reasonableness”.
This text is from Capsticks' Solicitors January 2019 Housing Update
Articles About The Case
Nearly Legal - Relevance and Homelessness
St Ives Chambers - Homelessness and the need to consider a “foreseeable future”