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Allocations: where have all the claims gone?

By J

Allocations under Pt.6, 1996 Act. A big topic. A sexy topic. A true behemoth of a topic. And, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, a topic that isn’t giving us very many cases these days. Which is odd, given the ever-growing tendency by local authorities to only allocate housing to people who are morally worthy (in the view of the authority) and who have family who have lived in the area since time began and who speak fluent English and who cure diseases with the power of prayer.

And so, to grapple with these issues, the Housing Law Practitioners Association has a whole meeting about allocations. It is on Wednesday, at 7pm. At a slightly different location to normal at Fyvie Hall Ground Floor University of Westminster 309 Regent Street London W1B 2UW

Your speakers are our very own Giles Peaker. The founder of NL. A partner at Anthony Gold. A housing law nut and a man not afraid to take on a local authority. Or two. Or three. If there is an unusual, bold or innovative argument to be found, then Giles is there like a pig hunting a truffle.

And joining him is the wonderful Catherine Rowlands of Cornerstone Barristers. In addition to having loads of housing law experience (I can’t list them all – I’ll be here for ages – read the CV). she is a Recorder and is on the AGs panel. A public lawyer of rare ability who, as far as I know, is making her HLPA debut.

So, come one, come all (so long as you’re a HLPA member or are prepared to join HLPA), to listen, to learn and, afterwards, to mingle with the great and the good. Or, at least, some of the NL team.


J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. frednach

    From the heyday or break thorugh from my point of view on allocations was the decision delivered by Mr Justice Collins in R v Lambeth 2002 where the legislative and code of guidance, in particular ‘reasonable preference’ was given some breath of air in which to circulate thanks to the code of guidance.

    The decision marked out for the first time what ‘reasonable preference’ was ie a heard start, how allocations betwen applicants were not be distinguished by way of composite needs; it also made useful guidance as to future challenges where authorities mix non preference applicants into the equation ensuring such applicant’s do not constitute a percental disadvantage.

    Recently, in my ‘work’ capacity I came across complaints from people about allocations in light of recent changes making such challenges difficult not least as much work has been done to draw up an allocations policy see recent judghement by Lady Justice Hale. Take the case of Ealing where under their old policy not only where NP and P applicants competing for the same property but the NRP ie under-occupiers were distinctly at odds, in that they had a 300% or 3 times more likely to be allocated property than people in overcrowded accommodation. However, I cannot but ask why it is that the people drawing up such important piece of policy do not learn lessons from past decisions and engage local poeple for their invaluable input- saves a lot of time and effort employing others not to mention plain old common sense.

    Allocations given the acute shortage of housing should always be based on needs or composite needs with a degree of flexibility with additonal preference as a decider- take the analogy a patient that goes to AE with a cut to the hand must not have a head start over a patient with a severed arm in need of immediate treatment- simple you might think.

    Thus in short, as the judgement spelt out for me allocations must be based on needs that must be carefully assesed through a points system, that system must be able to distnguish between composite needs and provide flexibility through addional preference. In terms of dealing with under-occupation or other NP categories of applicants this must ideally be allocated outside the allocations process through incentives such as mutual exchange, compensation or help in securing alternative sustained housing such as home ownerships for those in work and on decent income who should not be on a waiting list, as they can with help secure the right to buy.

  2. Carol Laidlaw

    To reply to Frednach: Promoting home ownership as the only valid method of housing for people in work is not useful as it creates long term problems. There is no such thing as a decently paid long term job these days, and many people find themselves unabke to pay the mortgage and facing homelessness soon after they become ill or get made redundant. I’ve lost count of the number of my clients this has happened to. Also, public (or council) housing estates fail as viable places to live when they have too big a proportion of tenants who depend on benefits, instead of having a mixture of people. I should know, I’ve lived on both types of estate.


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