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21/01/2009

In passing…

A couple of quick notes from the HLPA meeting this evening.

Aweys v Birmingham is listed for the Lords next week (homeless at home and allocation policy differences in priority between homeless at home and those with no accommodation available, as if you didn’t already know).

There were mentions of a handful of post-Doherty public law defence cases that have settled, although terms weren’t detailed. While we wait for Bedfordshire CC v Taylor and others (former subtenants) and McGlynn v Welwyn & Hatfield DC (non secure tenancy) in the Court of Appeal, which will be a couple of months for the latter and who knows when for the former, anecdotal evidence of settling is interesting. I’m not wholly surprised. Settling actually makes sense for the ‘landlord’ when the defence is even vaguely plausible so that the alternatives are either the risk of losing and having an occupier (not tenant) who can only be got out when it is reasonable to do so, or, more likely, adjournment pending current Court of Appeal and then maybe possible Lords appeals.

That said, there was also a mention of a failed case, so, in the post-Doherty confusion, one takes one’s chances. No mention of LB Hillingdon v Collins in the High Court, though, as a post-Doherty decision.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

7 Comments

  1. J

    I’ve also been told that Newham v Ahmed resulted in defeat for Newham. Their Lordships will give their reasons at a later date.

    Reply
    • NL

      Yes, it was suggested that it had not gone particularly well for Newham at the meeting last night

      Reply
    • Mike McIlvaney

      Pleased to hear that J. I hope Aweys goes as well.

      Reply
  2. Reg

    Word is Birmingham recently approved a new allocations scheme, but has delayed its implementation. Until the day of the Aweys hearing as it happens.

    I’m informed housing staff have been told that one of the policy’s principal aims is to discourage homelessness . I understand staff were specifically told the policy shall enable officers to advise some waiting list applicants in severe housing need against ‘going homeless’, because under the new policy the acceptance of the homelessness duty shall (in some cases) result in a reduction of the number of points awarded to the applicant’s existing Part 6 application. This is primarily because the policy prohibits the award of both ’homelessness’ points and other categories of points that are associated with the cause of the homelessness. In such cases only the homelessness points may be granted, which (and here’s the creative bit) might be lower than the number of points previously awarded under the alternative categories.

    The Aweys applicants were of course severely overcrowded. I understand this class of applicant are among those most likely in Birmingham to be warned in future that their points shall go down if they successfully pursue a homelessness application, despite the fact they might thereby fall into more than one of the s.167(2) reasonable preference categories.

    Strikes me as a surprising course to take, not only because Birmingham is an overcrowding pathfinder, but because its so obviously vulnerable to being struck down on grounds of peversity and of running contrary to the policy and purpose of the legislation. It seems clear housing chiefs think there are still too many persons applying as homeless, despite a lower propertion of lettings in Birmingham going to the homeless when compared with many other authorities.

    Reply
    • NL

      Interesting. I would imagine that the new policy would be under close scrutiny for failure to apply cumulative need under reasonable preference. Any policy that attempted to ring-fence ‘homelessness’ as a category of reasonable preference, without alllowing other reasonable preference categories to be cumulatively considered is, on settled case law, unlawful.

      If that is what this policy does, how long till the first JR? And why come up with a policy that is only likely to stand for a year or so (depending on the speed of the admin court)?

      We’ll all be interested to see the details of this policy if it makes the light of day.

      Reply
      • Mike McIlvaney

        We’ll be looking closely at the policy which we’ve now received.
        Aweys was heard on Monday. The Lords felt that there was an overlap of issues with the Moran case and has brought that forward to be heard on 16th Feb by the same Committee (Lords Hope, Scott, Neuberger, Walker and Lady Hale). There will then be an opportunity for the parties in Aweys to make further representations in writing on matters arising and then judgment will be given in both.

        Reply
        • NL

          Thanks Mike, I’d been told that there would be a delay in Aweys for Moran to be heard, but not a long one by the looks of it.

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