Begum v Tower Hamlets LBC. County Court at Central London. 1 December 2015
Thanks to the Housing: Recent Developments in the September 2016 edition of Legal Action for the note of this case.
This was a s.204 appeal of a s.202 review of suitability of temporary accommodation.
Tower Hamlets owed Ms B, and her four children then aged 10, 8, 3 and 2, the full housing duty. She had moved to the borough to stay at a refuge in September 2013, following long term domestic violence, and the children had begun school in the borough in October 2013. One of the children had a diagnosis of severe ADHD.
Tower Hamlets placed Ms B in out of borough temporary accommodation in Bexleyheath. This meant a daily commute of 5 hours to school and back each day for the children, causing considerable disruption to their education and well being.
In April 2015 a review of suitability was requested. On review Tower Hamlets upheld the suitability of the accommodation and said of the commute that the children must simply “bear the consequences of their mother’s decision” to continue their education in Tower Hamlets.
Ms B appealed the suitability of the location of the property and argued that Tower Hamlets had failed to consider properly the children’s best interests in compliance with its obligations under section 11 Children Act 2004.
The Recorder held that the review decision was unlawful as it did not contain a proper consideration of the needs and well-being of the children, particularly the disruption that would be caused by a change of schools.
There had been an alarming failure to apply the judgment of Lady Hale in Nzolameso v City of Westminster  UKSC 22 (our report) on the best interests of children in out of borough accommodation cases.
Appeal allowed with costs, and review decision quashed.