(Court of Appeal; Ward, Arden and Smith LJJ; 7 February 2008)
Hearing a number of judicial review cases involving families with large numbers of children living in severely crowded conditions, the judge found there had been consistent failures by the local authority to deal with applications in accordance with the law. The judge held that people who were homeless because their current home provided unsuitable accommodation were clearly in temporary accommodation, and should not be given a lesser priority by the council than people who were in the council's designated 'temporary' accommodation; further, while families might sometimes prefer to remain in unsuitable accommodation for a short time rather than move to temporary accommodation, councils must recognise that it was a breach of their duty to require them to do so.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the local housing authority's appeal: once the local housing association was satisfied that it was not reasonable for an applicant to continue to occupy their accommodation, that applicant was to be treated as being without accommodation. There was no justification for distinguishing between 'street' homeless and the homeless at home.