R v Islington London Borough Council, ex parte Hassan

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Judgment Date18 Jan 1995

MR ROGER TOULSON, QC SITTING AS A DEPUTY HIGH COURT JUDGE

Housing – local authority – intentional homelessness – local authority refused to house applicant on ground that applicant had made himself intentionally homeless – possession of dwelling house ordered by court on ground of rent arrears – applicant refused to consent to housing benefit being paid direct to private landlord.

On 23 November 1993 a private tenant ("the applicant") was ordered to give up possession of a dwelling house because of rent arrears. The landlord company ("the landlord") offered the applicant a choice of remaining in the dwelling house provided that housing benefit was paid by the local authority direct to the landlord. The landlord's offer was refused by the applicant. The applicant applied for local authority housing. The local authority decided that the rent arrears had caused the applicant to have become intentionally homeless; and that the refusal to consent to the payment of the housing benefit direct to the landlord meant that the applicant had ceased to occupy the dwelling house which was accommodation which would have been reasonable for the applicant to have continued to occupy.

The applicant sought judicial review.

Held – allowing the application: (1) In determining intentional homelessness attention had to be focused on what caused the applicant to lose his last settled accommodation. Having been found by the local authority to have become homeless, the local authority could not logically or properly have found that the homelessness was caused by acts or omissions on the part of the applicant. The acts or omissions relied upon by the local authority post-dated the finding of homelessness and could not be said to have caused the applicant to have become intentionally homeless. They did not cause the applicant to lose the settled accommodation since the applicant was already homeless.

(2) Section 60 of the Housing Act 1985 applied if a person had done or omitted to do something as a result of which he had become intentionally homeless within that section ie had lost settled accommodation through some deliberate act or omission. Thereafter, it was a pure question of causation whether that situation still subsisted. It had nothing thereafter to do with the applicant's state of mind. It was a pure question of fact whether the applicant subsequently acquired some other settled accommodation. Up until the moment at which the question of intentional homelessness under s 60 was to be determined, any change of behaviour on the applicant's part was relevant to the question whether the applicant's loss of settled accommodation was due to the applicant's own deliberate conduct.

Statutory provisions referred to:

Housing Act 1985, ss 58(1), (2)(a), (b), (c), 60(1).

Housing and Homeless Persons Act 1977.

Cases referred to in judgment:

City of Gloucester v Miles (1985) 17 HLR 292.

Din (Taj) and Another v Wandsworth London Borough Council [1983] 1 AC 657; [1981] 3 WLR 918; [1981] 3 All ER 881.

Lambert v Ealing London Borough Council [1982] 1 WLR 550; [1982] 2 All ER 394.

R v Brent London Borough Council, ex parte Awua[1994] 3 FCR 53.

R v London Borough of Merton, ex parte Ruffle (1989) 21 HLR 361.

R v London Borough of Newham, ex parte Campbell (1994) 26 HLR 183.

R v Westminster City Council, ex parte Chambers (1983) 81 LGR 401.

Heather Williams for the applicant.

Megan Thomas for the local authority.

MR ROGER TOULSON, QC.

This application raises a short point on the application of ss 58 and 60 of the Housing Act 1985 concerning homelessness and intentional homelessness. These sections are not free from difficulty and are the subject of a number of decisions.

In the present case there were two decision letters but it is sufficient for me to refer only to the second, dated 20 May 1994, in which the respondent council wrote to the applicant:

"I write further to my letter of 20 April 1994 which informed you that the council...

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