Administrative Court rules that Southwark wrong not to accept new application for homelessness assistance

Friday 8 July 2016

Today, Friday 9 July 2016, the Administrative Court declared that the London Borough of Southwark had acted unlawfully when it had refused to accept a new application for homelessness assistance from a woman known as JH.

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The issue was whether JH’s application to Southwark had been on exactly the same facts as two previous applications she had made. On each of the two previous applications, Southwark had found that she was not vulnerable and did not have a priority need, so there was no duty on Southwark to accommodate her.

JH made a third application for homelessness assistance after she had told her GP and a community mental health nurse that she had planned to commit suicide. Southwark had said that this was not a new fact, and so there was no obligation on it to accept a new homeless application.

Ms Amanda YIP QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, held that it was irrational for Southwark to decide that there were no new facts. The plan to commit suicide was a significant and relevant factor which Southwark had not taken into account. She quashed Southwark’s decision.

The effect of this judgment is that Southwark is obliged to accept JH’s application for homelessness assistance and to consider whether she is vulnerable and whether she does have a priority need.

JH was represented by Liz Davies of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team and Administrative and Public Law Team, instructed by Southwark Law Centre.

The full judgment can be read here.

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