Right to be Forgotten?

When does temporary accommodation become settled so as to break the chain of causation of intentional homelessness? The appeal in Huda v LB Redbridge [2016] EWCA Civ 709 concerned a homeless applicant and his family, who were effectively forgotten about by the council following a final decision on their application.

Mr H had applied to LBR as homeless in 2008 after refusing an offer of accommodation made by the council in discharge of a homelessness duty. Mr H was placed in temporary accommodation at 47 Wanstead Park Rd on 15/10/08 under a licence that was subject to a nightly charge of £49.15 (payable to a third party) and which was expressed not to give Mr H exclusive occupation. LBR decided in the following December that Mr H had made himself intentionally homeless, having refused the earlier offer. For reasons that are not so clear, the review of this decision was not finalised until 13/1/10 (more than a year later), and the earlier decision was upheld.

Mr H remained in occupation of 47 Wanstead Park Rd and no action was taken to evict the family until Mr H wrote to the council in 2012. After Mr H’s solicitors argued that 47 Wanstead Park Rd had become settled accommodation, the council accepted a further homelessness application but decided that accommodation which was allowed to continue only because of an administrative lapse could not become ‘settled’, nor had the licence converted at any point to an AST.

Mr H argued before the Court of Appeal that in the 2.5 years from January 2010, the council had effectively consented to Mr H’s indefinite occupation and it was wrong to describe the arrangement as a licence, even if it was provided under the limited s.190 HA 1996 duty.

Despite the unusually lengthy time lapse, the Court of Appeal concluded that Mr H’s occupation of 47 Wanstead Park Rd remained precarious and it could not at any time have been regarded as settled. This was demonstrated by the prompt service of the notice of quit after the position was discovered. While the issue of settled accommodation was one of fact and degree (Din v Wandsworth LBC), there were ultimately no facts to support the argument that Mr H’s tenure had changed from a licence to an assured tenancy.

The appeal was dismissed.

About SJM

SJM is partner and head of the housing and public law department at Miles and Partners LLP, based in London E1.
Posted in Homeless, Housing law - All.

3 Comments

  1. How can a private sector landlord create such a license and make it stick? It seems to be different rules for a council and the private sector…….

  2. It’s a long time for someone to be in temporary accommodation for sure and quite an administrative error. I know it’s not part of the judgement, but I’d love to know the reasons why it took them so long to make a review decision. It appears that Mr H was just totally forgotten about.

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