What happens when a homeless applicant is refused accommodation when the local authority are reviewing a decision made on their homelessness application?

When a local authority makes a negative decision on an applicant’s homelessness application, the applicant usually has the right to request a review of that decision. However, the local authority has discretion to decide whether to accommodate the applicant pending the outcome of the review. The local authority should take into consideration the merits of the review, whether any new information has come to light and the personal circumstances of the applicant when deciding on whether to accommodate the applicant pending the review.

This issue was considered in the case of R. (on the application of Laryea) -v- London Borough of Ealing  [2019] 8 WLUK 164

We acted for the Applicant in this matter who suffers from epilepsy and PTSD. He was found to be in priority need but then later found intentionally homeless. He was placed in temporary accommodation and the local authority decided that they would end the relief duty to him.

The relief duty is a duty for local authorities to take reasonable steps to help the applicant secure suitable accommodation with a reasonable prospect that it will be available for their occupation for at least 6 months. The duty applies when the local authority is satisfied that the applicant is both homeless and eligible for assistance. The reasonable steps to be taken should be in accordance with the applicant’s personalised housing plan.

We assisted the Applicant to request a review of this decision and also for accommodation pending review. The local authority refused on the basis that the Applicant had not taken reasonable steps as agreed in his personalised housing plan.

An application for permission to judicial review the local authority for failing to accommodate the Applicant was issued in the High Court. The application included an application for interim relief – accommodation pending the outcome of the court application.

Three challenges were brought; 1) that the merits of the review itself had not been considered, 2) that the personal circumstances of the Applicant had not been considered and 3) that the local authority had irrationally concluded that the Applicant was not ‘vulnerable’ even when they had already found him to be in priority need for this reason.

The High Court granted interim relief on the basis that the local authority had failed to consider the personal circumstances of the Applicant and the consequences to him of a decision not to accommodate him. It was noted that the Applicant had not taken full advantage of the opportunities offered to him in his Personalised Housing Plan but that had to be considered against his medical background, which includes physical and mental disabilities.

This is a complex area of law so if you, or someone you know, are facing a negative decision from the local authority, then you should seek specialist advice as soon as possible.

TV Edwards has a team of solicitors with expertise in housing cases. If you are seeking legal advice relating to housing issues, then please contact us on 0203 440 8000 or by email to a_housingreferrals@tvedwards.com to see if we can assist.

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