Eales v Havering Borough Council

High Court

13 July 2018

The High Court has held that a District Court had been entitled to make a possession order in favour of a local authority where a tenant suffering from a psychological disability had engaged in anti-social behaviour.

The tenant (Ms Eales) had a non-secure contractual tenancy in a property owned by the local authority (Havering Borough Council). Ms Eales had a history of anti-social behaviour and had been convicted of a racially-aggravated public order offence on a neighbour. Havering Borough Council applied for injunctive relief to evict her under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, served a notice to quit and issued a claim for possession due to anti-social behaviour and rent arrears. Ms Eales defended the claim, citing grounds of disability discrimination and claiming that Havering Borough Council had not followed its own policy by failing to refer her case to its vulnerable persons panel. Havering Borough Council maintained that any disability was exacerbated by Ms Eales’ drug and alcohol misuse, and a psychiatrist's report stated that she had to address her addictions before her personality disorder could be managed.

The District Court found that Ms Eales’ drug and alcohol abuse, not her disability, was the cause of her anti-social behaviour, and granted the possession order and injunction. Ms Eales appealed.

The High Court dismissed the appeal, ruling that the possession order was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aims of protecting the rights of other tenants and allowing Havering Borough Council to manage its housing stock.

This is an extempore (oral) decision and no transcript is currently available.

Kamara v Southwark London Borough Council [2018] EWCA Civ 1616

Court of Appeal

12 July 2018

The Court of Appeal has held that the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 do not require local authorities to specify in a “minded-to” letter that an applicant for homelessness assistance may make representations to the reviewer orally at a face-to-face meeting.

The appellants in three separate cases - Kamara v Southwark London Borough Council; Leach v St Albans City & District Council; Piper v South Bucks District Council - appealed against a decision of the County Court to uphold the respondent local authorities' decisions to refuse them homelessness assistance. Each appellant requested a review, arguing that the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 required the entitlement to a face-to-face meeting to be expressly set out in a “minded-to” letter. The letters that all three appellants received specified that representations could be made orally or in writing, or both orally and in writing. However, none of the letters specified that this meant that the appellant could insist on a face-to-face meeting.

The Court of Appeal dismissed all three appeals. It held that the appellants' rights were set out in the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 and had been stated verbatim in the “minded-to” letters. The three local authorities had notified the appellants of their right to make representations orally or in writing or both, as required by the Regulations, and that was sufficient. A requirement to expand on this would produce uncertainty in what was intended to be a straightforward administrative procedure.

A copy of the judgment is here.

Oduneye v Brent London Borough Council [2018] EWCA Civ 1595

Court of Appeal

5 July 2018

The Court of Appeal has held that a local authority had correctly decided that a tenant had made herself intentionally homeless by deliberately failing to meet her rental liability.

The tenant (Ms Oduneye) had received housing benefit from her local authority (Brent London Borough Council), which was paid direct to her landlord. However, when she started her own business, Brent London Borough Council sought proof of her income and other financial information in order to re-evaluate her entitlement to housing benefit. When this information was not provided, the housing benefit payments were suspended. Ms Oduneye fell into substantial rental arrears, and her landlord secured a possession order and evicted her. Following her eviction, Ms Oduneye applied to Brent London Borough Council for assistance on the basis that she was homeless. However, Brent London Borough Council decided that she had made herself intentionally homeless. Ms Oduneye asked for a review of the decision, but it was upheld by a reviewing officer. A County Court dismissed her appeal against the reviewing officer's decision.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, finding that Ms Oduneye had made herself intentionally homeless by failing to pay her rent – she has not provided the necessary financial documents required for processing her housing benefit claim and had failed to meet the shortfall between her housing benefit and her rent.

A copy of the judgment is here.

XPQ v Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council [2018] EWHC 1391

High Court

7 June 2018

The High Court has dismissed a claim brought by a woman trafficked into prostitution that a local authority was responsible for the harassment that occurred when she was housed.

The claimant (XPQ), a Ghanaian national who had been a victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation, was provided with temporary accommodation in a women-only safe house. The local authority (Fulham London Borough Council) was then obliged to provide XPQ with accommodation. She was placed in mixed accommodation with a room of her own, but sharing a bathroom with male residents. She complained of harassment and that she had been assaulted by a male resident, and eight days later Fulham London Borough Council moved her to alternative accommodation. Subsequently, she requested to be moved again, after claiming that she had been recognised by someone involved in her trafficking. She was moved the next day.

XPQ brought a claim for damages against Fulham London Borough Council, stating that the Council had breached the Housing Act 1996 and the EU Trafficking Directive 2011, and that she had suffered psychiatric damage as a result of being placed in unsuitable accommodation.

The High Court dismissed her claim, ruling that the incident at the accommodation was not reasonably foreseeable, and Fulham London Borough Council had reacted promptly in moving XPQ the day after she had been recognised. Finally, the EU Trafficking Directive 2011, which was concerned with providing assistance to victims of trafficking, was not directly effective against local authorities, and the Housing Act 1996 did not create a private law duty for which damages could be claimed.

A copy of the judgment is here.

TW & Ors, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Hillingdon & Anor [2018] EWHC 1791

High Court

13 July 2018

The High Court has held that a local authority’s residence qualification, which stated that only households with at least 10 years’ continuous residence in-borough could qualify to join the three-welfare-based bands of its housing register, was unlawful.

The claimants, all of Irish Traveller descent, were living in temporary accommodation in Hillingdon. The claimants challenged London Borough of Hillingdon’s Social Housing Allocation Policy, which included a condition that only households with at least 10 years’ continuous residence in-borough could qualify to join the three-welfare-based bands of its housing register. The Council contended that the residence qualification was a proportionate means of achieving legitimate aims.

The High Court held that the Council had not attempted to assess the extent of the disadvantage on Irish Travellers or considered whether it was justified. It said that a residence requirement, especially one as long as ten years, was highly likely to have a significant and adverse impact on Irish Travellers who are significantly less likely than members of other racial grounds to have resided in a particular location in the UK continuously for at least ten years. Consequently, the Court held that the residence qualification and uplift were unlawful.

A copy of the judgment is here.