QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| R (on the application of MONIQUE BEST)
|- and -
| OXFORD CITY COUNCIL
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Ranjit Bhose (instructed by Legal & Democratic Services, Oxford City Council) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 22nd and 23rd January 2009
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Miss Geraldine Andrews Q.C. :
i) The alleged ongoing failure of the Defendant ("the Council") to provide the Claimant ("Ms Best") with suitable accommodation under s.193 of the Housing Act 1996 ("the 1996 Act");
ii) The decision of the Council on 17th April 2008 that Ms Best had become intentionally homeless by failing to pay the rent on the accommodation provided for her ("Decision A") and
iii) The decision of the Council on a review of the 17th April 2008 decision pursuant to s.202 of the 1996 Act by Mr Kevin O'Malley, who reached the same conclusion that Ms Best had become intentionally homeless ("Decision B").
Although the claim for Judicial Review also encompasses what was said to be an ongoing failure by the Council to provide Ms Best with interim accommodation pursuant to s.188(3) of the 1996 Act pending the review of Decision A, that challenge has been overtaken by events. In any event, it raises no separate issue. It is accepted that Ms Best and her two sons have been provided with interim accommodation: again, the key issue is whether that accommodation is or is not suitable.
IS THE CLAIM AN ABUSE OF PROCESS?
THE CLAIM FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW
The statutory code
(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… they shall secure that accommodation is available for occupation by the applicant
(3) The authority are subject to the duty under this section until it ceases by virtue of any of the following provisions of this section
(6) The local housing authority shall cease to be subject to the duty under this section if the applicant…
b. Becomes homeless intentionally from the accommodation made available for his occupation.
"A local housing authority may require a person in relation to whom they are discharging such functions
(i) to pay such reasonable charges as they may determine in respect of accommodation which they secure for his occupation….
a) the financial resources available to that person, including but not limited to
i) salary fees and other remuneration;
ii) social security benefits….
ix) savings and other capital sums
b) The costs in respect of the accommodation
[including rent, service charges and council tax]
d) That person's other reasonable living expenses.
"Any risk of violence or racial harassment in a particular locality must also be taken into account. Where domestic violence is involved and the applicant is not able to stay in the current home, housing authorities may need to consider the need for alternative accommodation whose location can be kept a secret and which has security measures and staffing to protect the occupants."
"A person becomes homeless intentionally if he deliberately does or fails to do anything in consequence of which he ceases to occupy accommodation which is available for his occupation and which it would have been reasonable for him to continue to occupy."
The classic example of a situation in which someone makes himself homeless intentionally is where he is evicted from the property provided to him by the Local Authority on account of his failure to pay the rent or because of anti-social behaviour.
Were the Council entitled to have regard to matters prior to 19th February 2008?
Is Decision B susceptible of Judicial Review?
Was Marlborough Road affordable in February 2008?
The Challenge to Decision A
The alleged continuing breach of statutory duty