David Carter, instructed by Shelter wins an important decision regarding review procedures for The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness.

07.03.14 | |

The Court of Appeal has held that, where a homeless applicant puts forward new information for the purposes of a review of a homelessness decision, the local authority’s reviewer must serve a minded to notice pursuant to reg.8(2) of The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Review Procedures) Regulations 1999 if the new information could make a difference to the review decision. The court rejected the Council’s argument that for reg.8(2) to apply, the new information had to have come into existence after the original decision was made.

 

In Mohamoud v Birmingham City Council [2014] EWCA Civ 227, Ms Mohamoud applied to the Council for accommodation as a homeless person.  They decided that they owed her an accommodation duty and informed her that she would only receive one offer of suitable accommodation. In due course, they offered her a tenancy of a two bedroom flat in a tower block warning her that if she refused it, they would cease to be subject to the duty. She did refuse it and the Council notified her that they no longer owed her a duty. Shelter asked for a review of that decision explaining that she had not understood the consequences of her refusal because she could not read English very well, she had thought that she had been entitled to three offers and she had relied on advice from friends who had been through a similar process. The Council’s reviewing officer upheld the decision to discharge duty and her appeal to the county court was dismissed.

 

Regulation 8(2) provides that where a reviewer considers that there is a deficiency or irregularity in an original decision, or in the manner in which it was made, but is minded nonetheless to make a decision which is against the applicant’s interests on one or more issues, he must notify the applicant off this and the reasons why, and tell him that he may make representations to the reviewer.

 

Ms Mohamoud appealed to the Court of Appeal on the ground that, before making the review decision, the reviewing officer should have told her of the decision he was proposing to make and given her the opportunity to make further representations because – relying on Banks v Kingston-upon-Thames RLBC [2008] EWCA Civ 1443; [2009] PTSR 1354 – her assertion that she had believed that she was entitled to three offers – had made the original decision deficient. The court accepted that argument and allowed her appeal.

 

The case is significant because reviewing officers will now need to send applicants minded to letters in every case where assertions of new facts have been raised on review which could make a difference to the review decision.

 

David Carter, instructed by Abigail Simpson of Shelter West Midlands Advice Service, represented Ms Mohamoud

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