Court of Appeal declares residency criteria unlawfully discriminate against refugees and Irish Travellers

Like many other local authorities, the London Borough of Hillingdon uses residency criteria to prioritise the allocation of social housing. However, Hillingdon has the longest in the country, requiring applicants to have lived in the Borough for 10 years, which plainly disadvantages refugees who, like Mr Gullu, cannot choose where they live when they are seeking asylum in the UK, and Irish Travellers like who Ms Ward have lived a nomadic lifestyle. Today the Court of Appeal allowed Mr Gullu’s appeal against the decision of the High Court dismissing his application for judicial review ([2019] H.L.R. 4) and dismissed Hillingdon’s appeal against a separate decision that Irish Travellers are being discriminated against by the residency criteria ([2019] EWHC 157). It will now be for Hillingdon to devise a rule that it can justify and which is fairer to Irish Travellers like Ms Ward and refugees like Mr Gullu.

Refugees and Irish Travellers have long since faced acute housing problems and this is important decision that seeks to prevent them from facing further disadvantage. 

The Court of Appeal’s decision protects the rights of those disadvantaged by Hillingdon’s criteria by levelling the playing field; it does not require social housing to be giving to refugees and Irish Travellers.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened and the Refugee Council provided evidence.

Jamie Burton acted for Mr Gullu, instructed by Will Ford of Osbornes.

Judgement can be found here.