A TV Edwards client has been successful in a court challenge against a local authority’s refusal to provide suitable alternative temporary housing pending a homelessness review.

In R (Karimi) v Newham LBC Administrative Court, CO/4809/2020, we acted for Mr Karimi in bringing a judicial review against Newham Council. In 2016 the Council had accepted a main housing duty to Mr Karimi meaning that they had a duty to secure that he had suitable accommodation available to live in. In November 2020 the Council offered Mr Karimi new temporary housing. Mr Karimi did not believe the property was suitable for him. However, due to the risk of Mr Karimi being made homeless if he rejected the temporary housing, Mr Karimi moved into the property. At the same time he requested a review as to its suitability.  

Mr Karimi instructed our Radhika Shah in the review and detailed representations were sent to the Council. Local authorities have the power to provide alternative housing pending the outcome of a statutory review and Radhika requested this on behalf of Mr Karimi. It was argued that the temporary housing was having a significantly adverse impact on his health. The property was in poor condition and Mr Karimi’s mental health was badly impacted from the noise he was hearing from the family living in the flat upstairs. There was strong medical evidence from his treating psychiatrist stating that Mr Karimi was at risk of harming himself as a way to cope with the noise.

When local authorities consider whether to provide alternative accommodation during the review process they must take into consideration the merits of the review, whether any new information has come to light and the personal circumstances of the homeless applicant when deciding whether to accommodate him pending the review.

In Mr Karimi’s case Newham Council refused to provide alternative suitable housing pending the outcome of the review. However, they failed to consider any of the points above.

Mr Karimi brought a claim for judicial review in the High Court of that refusal and applied for interim relief requiring the council to accommodate him in alternative suitable accommodation until trial of the claim.

On the 23 December 2020 Mr Justice Saini granted an interim injunction in an urgent application. He observed that Mr Karimi is clearly in a vulnerable position and concerns about his risk of self-harm in his current accommodation need to be taken into account by the Council. He imposed a time limit for the provision of the accommodation, stating that this allowed the Council a short but reasonable period to accommodate Mr Karimi given the current crisis.

On the 7 January 2021 the judicial review settled upon the Council agreeing on review that the accommodation was not suitable and agreeing to now provide him with suitable accommodation.

The solicitor acting for Mr Karimi is Radhika Shah. The barrister representing Mr Karimi was Dr Timothy Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers.

This is a complex area of law so if you, or someone you know, are seeking to challenge a decision from the local authority on a homelessness application, 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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