Intentional homelessness: whether 2-years renting amounted to settled accommodation

Friday 10 November 2017

Doka v London Borough of Southwark [2017] EWCA Civ 1532, 17 October 2017

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Doka v London Borough of Southwark [2017] EWCA Civ 1532, 17 October 2017

In November 2010 the appellant, Mr Doka, was evicted from his home at Laburnam Close in South East London on the basis of rent arrears. His former employer, Mr Theobald, subsequently allowed him to stay in his home in Dartford. The arrangement was initially meant to be a temporary one. But after a few weeks the arrangement was put on a more stable footing, with Mr Theobald agreeing to provide what he described as ‘full-time accommodation’,  allowing Mr Doka to sleep in his son’s bedroom (while his son was away at University) for £500 a month. Mr Theobald told Mr Doka that he could live there for two-three years, while his son finished at University, though Mr Doka would be required to stay with friend’s on occasion if Mr Theobald’s son returned and needed the use of the room.

Two years later, in December 2012, Mr Theobald asked Mr Doka to leave. Mr Theobald’s son had returned from University and various works of refurbishment were to be carried out at the house. Mr Doka stayed with friends initially but, following the birth of his son, applied to the Respondent, the London Borough of Southwark, for homelessness assistance.

After making inquiries into the application Southwark decided that Mr Doka was not owed the main housing duty as he had become homeless intentionally from the accommodation at Laburnam Close. This decision was upheld on review and on appeal.

On a second appeal to the Court of Appeal, the issue was whether or not the two-year period Mr Doka spent living with Mr Theobald amounted to ‘settled accommodation’ breaking the causal chain between Mr Doka’s deliberate act (the non-payment of rent and Laburnam Close) and his current state of homelessness, for the purposes of s191 and s193(2) Housing Act 1996. Dismissing the appeal, the court held that:

…the length of the period of accommodation relied on is not conclusive as to whether it should be treated as settled in the sense described in Din and the subsequent cases in which the test has been applied. What the applicant needs to establish is a period of occupation under either a licence or a tenancy which has at its outset or during its term a real prospect of continuation for a significant or indefinite period of time so that the applicant's transition from his earlier accommodation cannot be said to have put him into a more precarious position than he previously enjoyed.

The reviewing officer had correctly applied these principles and had not made any error of law.

Doka v London Borough of Southwark [2017] EWCA Civ 1532

Adrian Marshall-Williams appeared for the appellant.

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