COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM BIRMINGHAM COUNTY COURT
His Honour Judge Worster
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL CIVIL DIVISION
LORD JUSTICE RIMER
LORD JUSTICE ETHERTON
| NASEEM AKHTAR
|- and -
|BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL
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Jonathan Manning and Emily Orme (instructed by Birmingham City Council Legal Services) for the Respondent
Hearing dates : 15th February 2011
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Etherton :
The statutory framework
"I have considered all the evidence including but not limited to:
Your homeless application form
Your review request dated 23 March 2009
Taking into account all the evidence available to me, I have concluded:
I have decided to overturn the decision to discharge duty to you, and to reinstate your homeless priority status. Subsequently, you will be made one final offer of accommodation in line with Current Allocations Policy.
Birmingham City Council housing Policy is that all homeless applicants accepted under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 will receive one offer of suitable accommodation. This will be your one and final offer, which fulfils the City Council's duty under the grounds of homelessness."
"When you are made your final offers of accommodation you have two choices. You can either:
(1) Accept the property or
(2) Refuse the property.
Irrespective of your decision, you can ask us to review the suitability of the offer. You should however be aware that if you refuse the property and your review is unsuccessful, you will not be made any further offers of accommodation from Birmingham City Council because of your homeless status. If you refuse the offer we are limited to providing you with advice and assistance.
You will be offered accommodation suitable for your household as defined in the City Council's Allocations Policy. If you choose to refuse a further offer, based only on the basis that it is not in your main area of choice, or it is not the property type of your preference, it is unlikely that you will be made a further offer. As you were advised in your homeless interview, if the City Council is unable to secure a suitable property for you within 8 weeks of accepting the main housing duty towards you, your areas of choice may be extended to city-wide.
We therefore advise all applicants to carefully consider accepting the offer made to them to alleviate homelessness. There is no guarantee that you will be made another offer. I also strongly advise you to utilise the opportunity to have an accompanied viewing, whereby a Housing Officer will be able to discuss any queries you may have."
"Offered 3 bed parlour type. Household mum + 7 children. NB Eldest daughter is now 21, requires room of her own under new Allocations Policy. As such, family need a property with 5/6 bedrooms under this policy. Property offered is not large enough to discharge duty to this household in accordance with Allocations Policy…"
"As part of this legal duty [under Part 7 of the Act] we only have to offer you accommodation once. This is your one and final offer.
We think that the accommodation we are offering you is suitable for you and your family and that it would be reasonable for you to accept it.
What happens if you turn this offer down?
If you turn this offer down without good reason we will not offer you any more accommodation and the Council will have discharged its duty to you.
You can ask for a review if you do not agree that the accommodation is unsuitable. You have this right whether you decide to accept or refuse this offer of accommodation."
"You will have on record that the Housing Department have previously offered our client property in the Kingstanding area of the city and deemed it unsuitable; in the circumstances we fail to see how the current offer could have lead [sic] you to discharge your duties in this matter."
The appeal to the County Court.
Lord Justice Rimer
Lord Justice Maurice Kay
193 Duty to persons with priority need who are not homeless intentionally.
E+W(1)This section applies where the local housing authority are satisfied that an applicant is homeless, eligible for assistance and has a priority need, and are not satisfied that he became homeless intentionally.
(2)Unless the authority refer the application to another local housing authority (see section 198), they shall secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant.
(7)The local housing authority shall also cease to be subject to the duty under this section if the applicant, having been informed of the possible consequence of refusal and of his right to request a review of the suitability of the accommodation, refuses a final offer of accommodation under Part 6.
(7A)An offer of accommodation under Part 6 is a final for the purpose of subsection (7) if it is made in writing and states that it is a final offer for the purposes of subsection (7)
(7F)The local housing authority shall not—
(a)make a final offer of accommodation under Part 6 for the purposes of subsection (7); …
unless they are satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the applicant and that it is reasonable for him to accept the offer.
202 Right to request review of decision.
(1)An applicant has the right to request a review of—
(b)any decision of a local housing authority as to what duty (if any) is owed to him under sections 190 to 193 to 196 (duties to persons found to be homeless or threatened with homelessness),
(f)any decision of a local housing authority as to the suitability of accommodation offered to him in discharge of their duty under any of the provisions mentioned in paragraph (b) … or as to the suitability of accommodation offered to him as mentioned in section 193(7).
(1A)An applicant who is offered accommodation as mentioned in section 193 …(7) …may under subsection 1(f) … request a review of the suitability of the accommodation offered to him whether or not he has accepted the offer.
(4)On a request being duly made to them, the authority or authorities concerned shall review their decision."
203 Procedure on a review.
(1)The Secretary of State may make provision by regulations as to the procedure to be followed in connection with a review under section 202. Nothing in the following provisions affects the generality of this power.
(3)The authority, or as the case may be either of the authorities, concerned shall notify the applicant of the decision on the review.
(4)If the decision is—
(a)to confirm the original decision on any issue against the interests of the applicant, or
(b)to confirm a previous decision—
(i)to notify another authority under section 198 (referral of cases), or
(ii)that the conditions are met for the referral of his case,
they shall also notify him of the reasons for the decision.
204 Right of appeal to county court on point of law.
(1)If an applicant who has requested a review under section 202—
(a)is dissatisfied with the decision on the review …
he may appeal to the county court on any point of law arising from the decision or, as the case may be, the original decision.