The House considered appeals challenging whether local authorities who gave unacceptable housing to the homeless had satisfied their obligations to them as homeless people. What was meant by the phrase ‘accommodation which it would be reasonable for him to continue to occupy’? In the Birmingham cases large families had been temporarily housed in accommodation which was too small, and in the Manchester case a mother having rejected the unsatisfactory temporary accommodation had been deemed intentionally homeless.
Held: Parliament did not intend that a woman who left her violent partner and found temporary shelter in a women’s refuge should no longer be considered homeless. The refuge was a mere staging post until she had decided where to go from there. However, it is proper for a local authority to decide that it would not be reasonable for a person to continue to occupy the accommodation which is available to him or her, even if it is reasonable for that person to occupy it for a little while longer, if it would not be reasonable for the person to continue to occupy the accommodation for as long as he or she will have to do so unless the authority take action.
It was lawful for Birmingham to decide that an applicant is homeless because it is not reasonable for him to remain in his present accommodation indefinitely but to leave him there for the short term. We would not agree that it is lawful for them to leave such families where they are until a house becomes available under the council’s allocation scheme. The present accommodation may become unsuitable long before then. In the Manchester case the decision that Mrs Moran was intentionally homeless was quashed.