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Social housing case law update: February 2014

(1) Wayne Obrey (2) Jonathan Snodgrass (3) Janet Shadforth (Appellants) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions (Respondent) & Equality & Human Rights Commission (Intervener) [2013] EWCA Civ 1584

There had been no error of law in the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal's decision that although the 52-week rule for eligibility for housing benefit under the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 reg 7(17) indirectly discriminated against the mentally ill, such discrimination was justified because the rule was not manifestly without reasonable foundation. The issue was best left for evaluation and judgment by a specialist appellate tribunal with a particular expertise in the field of social security law.

R (on the application of HC) (Claimant) v (1) Secretary of State for Work & Pensions (2) Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (3) Revenue & Customs Commissioners (Defendants) (4) Oldham MBC (Defendant/Interested Party) [2013] EWHC 3874 (Admin) Supperstone J

The Social Security (Habitual Residence) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and the Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2012 did not unlawfully discriminate against a claimant, the parent of an EU national child, who was a third country national upon whom a minor child was dependent. The amending regulations represented a proportionate means of furthering the legitimate aim of protecting scarce public resources, including from individuals who moved to, or remained in the UK in order to take advantage of its welfare system.

Swan Housing Association v Cary Gill [2013] EWCA Civ 1566

A judge's finding that a housing association's tenant suffered from Asperger's syndrome and was therefore disabled was not supported by evidence. His conclusion, that in proceeding with an application for an anti-social behaviour injunction under the Housing Act 1996 s153A, the housing association had breached the Equality Act 2010 s35 and the public sector equality duty under s149, was flawed.

Anzela Viackiene v Tower Hamlets LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1764

A joint tenant who had been evicted after her co-tenant failed to pay his share of the rent was intentionally homeless because she had failed to take up the landlord's offer to try to find a suitable replacement co-tenant.

Birmingham City Council v Michael Balog [2013] EWCA Civ 1582

A review officer had not acted perversely or failed to reach a rational conclusion on relevant grounds in upholding a decision that a tenant was intentionally homeless under the Housing Act 1996 s191. While he had made no express reference to statutory guidance in his decision, it was evident that he had conducted a careful and considered examination.

(1) Nicole Tachie (2) Washington Terera (3) Mr Yucel II v Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council [2013] EWHC 3972 (QB) Jay J

The exemption in TeckalSrl v Comune di Viano (Reggio Emilia) (C-107/98) [1999] E.C.R. I-8121 applied to the process of contracting out by a local authority of its homelessness functions under the Housing Act 1996 Pt VII to a community housing trust which was a company limited by guarantee, since the company was wholly owned by the local authority and was completely controlled by it.

Kathleen Slattery v Basildon Borough Council [2014] EWCA Civ 30

A traveller's appeal against a decision that a house was suitable as temporary accommodation for her was dismissed. The court was bound to follow Sheridan v Basildon BC (formerly Basildon DC) [2012] EWCA Civ 335, [2012] H.L.R. 29 which held that an arguable failure by the local authority to exercise its powers under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 s24 did not disable it from relying on the absence of any available caravan pitches.

Circle Thirty Three Housing Trust Ltd v Nelson – 27/1/14 CA

The court set aside a possession order and reinstated the appellants' defence where the judge who allowed an unless order to take effect and made the possession order had been given a false impression by their legal representative.

Solihull MBC v Shamina Khan [2014] EWCA Civ 41

A local authority, in considering whether a homeless person had unreasonably rejected an offer of accommodation, was not required to take into account the person's state of knowledge about the local authority's rejection of the person's reasons for not wanting to live in a particular area. Offer letters did not have to give reasons explaining why the offered property was considered suitable and reasonable for the person to accept.

R (on the application of PK) v Harrow LBC - QBD (Admin) (Eder J) 30/01/2014

A local authority's assessment by which it decided that it was obliged under the Children Act 1989 s20 to accommodate two homeless children but not their mother had failed to take into account their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art 8.

Masih v Yousaf (2014) Court of Appeal 06/02/2014

A notice seeking possession was valid where it had referenced the relevant ground in ground eight of the Housing Act 1988 Sch 2 and had referred to at least two months' rent being owed, even though it had not mirrored the statutory language. That was sufficient to give a tenant the information required to enable her to consider what action she should take.