23rd May 1997

 

This case deals with matters to be considered by a housing authority when deciding whether or not to extend interim accommodation, pending a review after refusal by that authority.

The case was an application for judicial review of a housing authority's decision not to continue to provide the applicant with interim accommodation under s.188 of the Housing Act 1996 while determining the review of her homelessness application under s.202 of the Act of 1996.

 

HELD: The respondent's policy of not providing interim accommodation pending a review in the absence of exceptional reasons was perfectly lawful as housing authorities had a wide discretion under s.188 of the Act but there was an underlying requirement when exercising that discretion to keep in mind, on the one hand the objective of fairness to those who were homeless in circumstances where the authority had decided it owed them no duty, and on the other, to give proper consideration to the possibility that an applicant for a review might be right and that to deprive him of interim accommodation could result in a denial of an entitlement.

 

A court had to bear in mind:

  1. the merits of the case itself and the extent to which it could properly be said that the decision was one which required a very fine balance of judgment and which might go either way;

  2. whether there was any new material or information or argument put before the authority which could have a real effect on the decision under review; and

  3. matters which were clearly relevant, such as the personal circumstances of the applicant and the consequences to her of an adverse decision. However there were some cases where other considerations might prove to be relevant. In the present case the application would be allowed as the authority had failed to give the respondent reasons which was clearly a breach of its obligations under s.184(3) of the Act.


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