High Court quashes council’s refusal to accommodate vulnerable man

Monday 27 November 2023

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Mr SS had significant health problems and was a wheelchair user. He lived in Cornwall and complained that he had been the subject of abuse at the hands of his neighbours. He was frightened and had no confidence that the authorities in Cornwall would assist him. He travelled to London and applied as homeless to Kensington & Chelsea. The council decided he was not homeless and asserted that it was reasonable for him to continue to occupy the accommodation in Cornwall.

With the help of Camden Community Law Centre, Mr SS challenged that decision. The council was asked to continue to provide accommodation to Mr SS under s188(3) Housing Act 1996 pending that challenge. They refused.

Nick Bano and Angharad Monk of Garden Court’s housing team prepared an application for judicial review of that refusal.  An interim order requiring the council to continue to accommodate Mr SS was obtained.

In giving judgment on the application for judicial review, the High Court held that the council’s inquiries were deficient in several areas. The complexities of Mr SS’s health conditions had not been properly considered. Relevant recent matters should have affected the council’s decision. As a result, the High Court held that the council had not approached the matter in accordance with the key case of R v Camden LBC ex p Mohammed (1998) 30 HLR 315. The council’s decisions to refuse to continue to provide accommodation were quashed. Kevin Gannon of Garden Court’s housing team represented Mr SS at the hearing.

The ongoing provision of something as basic as accommodation is incredibly important and the case shows that councils must approach their decision properly. Even where a council has a wide discretion as to its decision, it can still be challenged where its inquiries are deficient so that it does not have a proper basis for the decision.

Click here to read the judgment. The case was covered on Rights Net

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