QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF LINDA BILVERSTONE||(CLAIMANT)|
|OXFORD CITY COUNCIL||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS K BRETHERTON (instructed by OXFORD CC LEGAL SERVICES) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"The purpose of this approach is to ensure that existing secure tenants do not have to go through the homelessness route and spend years in temporary accommodation simply to obtain another secure tenancy. However this is still subject to objective, corroborative (normally third party) evidence of violence being submitted to the ECP. In the absence of such evidence the panel will not award an urgent move as a Transfer case of an existing tenant."
The letter went on to confirm that:
"Any secure tenant is also entitled to present as homeless under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 if they believe their accommodation is unreasonable to continue to occupy..."
"Mrs Bilverstone should be made aware she will need to give up her tenancy should she be accepted as homeless and in doing so she could forego the possibility of other options to move such as a mutual exchange with another tenant. She also needs to make an informed decision since the average wait in temporary accommodation on acceptance as homeless is in the region of 4 years currently. This average time is likely to lengthen as the homelessness crisis grows. Consequently if Mrs Bilverstone would prefer that I present the evidence to the ECP and chooses not to go through the homelessness route then please confirm this in writing. Otherwise I anticipate that the Homelessness office will assess her circumstances."
"On considering the case the ECP took account of the fact that Mrs Bilverstone had been accepted as statutorily homeless on 12th March. Although the Council's Domestic Violence policy allows for existing secure tenants of the authority to be referred to the ECP this does not, and cannot, preclude tenants from exercising their right to present as homeless. However pursuing the Homeless route where this results in acceptance as statutorily homeless precludes the applicant from prioritisation through the Transfer Scheme bearing in mind that even an award of urgent priority can still result in a wait of many months sometimes stretching into years on the Transfer register. As a result the ECP reached the following decision:-
1. It was inappropriate to consider Mrs Bilverstone as an on-going Transfer register case. She will have to give up her tenancy by virtue of the Council's policies and the Homelessness legislation. In addition she is arguably not a 'secure' tenant of the Council within the meaning of the 1985 Housing Act.
2. Acceptance as homeless has provided a satisfactory resolution to her housing problems. She will be provided with self-contained suitable accommodation in fulfilment of the Council's Homelessness duty.
3. It would not have been appropriate to award any priority since her circumstances are no longer exceptional in terms of the Transfer Points Scheme. Being accepted as homeless is not 'exceptional' and is a suitable remedy for a person's housing problems.
4. The Homelessness route is an alternative to the ECP route and is certainly not an 'inferior' solution albeit that it involves a wait for permanent rehousing. Temporary second stage accommodation provided in fulfilment of the Council's Homelessness duty is mostly of a higher standard than the Council's own stock.
In reaching this decision the panel also noted Mrs Bilverstone had made an informed decision and chose to pursue the Homelessness route, which proved successful."
"... are not to be regarded as separate territories and I accept... that there is no reason why a [local] authority should not deal with an application for housing accommodation... under [both parts]."
"Although the panel awards points which are then embraced within the Points Scheme, the Panel deal with exceptional circumstances only which are not covered directly by the other elements of the Points Scheme".
"On 30th April 2003 Maurice Kay J directed that this matter [that is the new matter] be listed on 9th May, and that [the earlier matter] remain listed to be disposed of by consent at the same time. On 9th May [the earlier matter] was withdrawn by consent."