In an important decision for the social housing sector, a council’s policy to generally exclude those living in suitable long-term temporary accommodation from its waiting list for permanent homes has been struck down as unlawful by the Court of Appeal.
The council had accepted a duty to house a woman in need and had placed her in long-term temporary accommodation with a private landlord. On the basis that the property was suitable for her occupation, her name was removed from the list of those awaiting permanent accommodation. That was on the basis of the council’s policy that those in her position would not ‘normally’ qualify for a place on the list.
In upholding the woman’s judicial review challenge, the Court found that the council’s policy conflicted with its duty under Section 166A(3) of the Housing Act 1996 to ensure that ‘reasonable preference’ is given to those in her position. The Court rejected as ‘unsustainable’ the council’s plea that the setting of qualification criteria was an entirely separate matter to securing the grant of reasonable preference.