The Court of Appeal has ruled that a man who knew that he and his daughter were about to become homeless, and who wrote to the council seeking its assistance in obtaining accommodation, had done enough to trigger the council’s obligation to provide him with assistance and advice.
The man was a heavy drinker who had custody of his daughter. When he lost his job, he sold his property to pay his mortgage arrears and moved into rented accommodation. He subsequently fell behind with his rent and was given notice to quit. He wrote to the council, but was not assessed as being in priority need and so he and his daughter moved into a caravan. The council did not inform him when he was a tenant that he could claim housing benefit, nor that he could remain in occupation of the property until evicted.
He was later given temporary accommodation, but the council decided for various reasons that he was intentionally homeless. It did not allow a meeting to enable him to put his side of the issue.
The man’s claim that the council had erred in not providing him with advice, following his application for housing as a homeless person, was upheld by the court. The council appealed.
The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, ruling that the council had not met its obligations to the man under the Housing Act 1996. The issue was referred back to the council to reconsider.