The allocation of housing by local housing authorities is governed by Pt.6, Housing Act 1996 (Encyclopdia, para. 13545.100.1). A local housing authority must have an allocation scheme for determining priority and must allocate housing accommodation in accordance with that scheme (s.166A(1)). The scheme must be framed so as to secure that “reasonable preference” is given to persons who are “homeless” (within the meaning of Part 7, Housing Act 1996) (s.166A(3)(a); ).
The respondent authority had an allocation scheme which did not permit all persons who were homeless within the meaning of Part 7, to apply for an allocation; rather, a person had to be owed an assessed housing duty under Part 7 before they could apply for an allocation of social housing. The applicants applied at a time when they were homeless but not owed any housing duty under Part 7 and their applications were rejected; they sought judicial review. The authority contended that, in practice, around 43.25% of all homeless applicants were accepted into the scheme which was sufficient to comply with s.166A(3)(a).
The claim was allowed. The scheme was unlawful because it prevented the vast majority of a reasonable preference class from even applying for an allocation.