Just bonkers, absolutely bonkers

Just what did Sandwell think they were doing?  They set a minimum residence requirement of two years (why two you might ask) for their local council tax reduction scheme and thought that would be acceptable.  They did so on the basis that they were concerned about those nasty southerners taking advantage of their cheaper housing, such that Sandwell would be flooded with people from outside.  They were concerned about the financial impacts if those outsiders were poor and required a council tax reduction.  The empirical basis for that assertion lay, one can only think, in the minds of those who attended the full council meeting on 4th December 2012.  Mind … Read the full post

Trouble out west

In O’Brien v Bristol CC [2014] EWHC 2423 (Admin) [heard at the RCJ instead of in the Bristol admin court?  Not on Bailii yet but we have seen a transcript], a range of issues arose out of the council’s decision to seek and obtain a possession order of an unauthorised encampment below the M5 at Avonmouth.  The real aim of this judicial review, though, was not the possession order, but the council’s decision not to allow the O’Brien’s and their four caravans to return to the temporary transit site, which had available pitches.  The O’Briens had stayed at that temporary site for the allowable period (13 weeks) and had been … Read the full post

Pregnancy and Worker Status

Saint Prix v SSWP Case C-507/12 must be one of the more obvious decisions of the CJEU in the sense that the outcome should have been apparent (although the rationale less so), but no less important because of that.  The question on reference from the UKSC was, in essence, whether somebody who becomes pregnant loses their worker status for the purposes of Article 7(1), Directive 2004/38/EC.  As one of my colleagues put it, the case is of “mild interest”.

Bearing in mind the significance of losing worker status, in terms of eligibility for homelessness assistance/allocation and the range of benefits, this is a question of some importance.  The outcome, which … Read the full post

What’s the Din?*

In Haile v Waltham Forest LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 792, the question for the Court of Appeal was the relevant date for determining whether an applicant is intentionally homeless.  On the facts, this was a significant question: Ms Haile had left her room in a hostel on 25th October 2011 to go to stay with a friend.  Only one person was entitled to occupy the room.  She said that she left the room because of unpleasant smells in the hostel.  At the time she left the room, she was pregnant and she gave birth to the beautifully named Delina on 15th February 2012.  Now, clearly, as of Delina’s birth, the … Read the full post

HB and Exempt accommodation: unreasonably high rent

I admit that SS v Birmingham CC [2013] UKUT 418 (AAC) has been on my to do list for a while and that, possibly, the main reason for finding the time to write it up is because I’m on a two hour strike (#fairpayinHE).  But, it is a really quite important case about the application of the unreasonably high rent rule for “exempt accommodation” in Reg 13 and Sch 3 of the 2006 Housing Benefit regs.  The principal question of law concerns the meaning of “suitable alternative accommodation” in those regs.

Roshni is a charitable organisation providing a women’s refuge for women from the South Asian continent.  They lost their … Read the full post

Benefit cap JR

I’ve been really slow to write this up, for which many apologies, but I have just got bogged down in other things.  The benefit cap JR got lost amongst that other stuff partly because it was almost predictable after MA that the Divisional Court would find a way to uphold it.

Actually, though, having read it again the other day for a different reason, the benefit cap challenge – R(JS) v SSWP [2013] EWHC 3350 (QB) – was very clever (CPAG and Shelter were joined as interveners – CPAG’s arguments can be found here) and the appeal is to be heard pretty soon, having been expedited by Richards LJ.  … Read the full post

A Christmas gift for you: Contracting out and more

I appreciate that it isn’t exactly pc still to like Phil Spector’s album, but I do think it remains the best of the lot.  And, in a way, Tachie, Terera and Il v Welwyn Hatfield BC [2013] EWHC 3972 (QB) is a Christmas gift for local authorities which have contracted out their homelessness decision-making (on which we have paused for comment a couple of times here and here).  Frankly also, as we shall see, in my view they really got away with it, not just on the contracting out issue but also on some pretty ropey, undoubtedly harsh decision-making.  It’s a bit of a monster of a case, which … Read the full post

Allocations and legitimate expectation

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In R(Alansi) v Newham LBC, Stuart-Smith J held that, although Ms Alansi had a legitimate expectation that she would remain a priority homeseeker on Newham’s housing register, Newham had not acted unreasonably and in abuse of its power by withdrawing its representation.  It is a case which demonstrates (again) just how hard it is to shoehorn a genuine grievance into a successful JR challenge, doubly so in the context of a local authority allocation scheme.

Ms Alansi had decided to accept an offer of PRS accommodation made by Newham under s 193, Housing Act 1996, in circumstances in which Newham had clearly and unambiguously (as Stuart-Smith J found) … Read the full post