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Social Housing Speed Read – R (on the application of Laryea) v London Borough of Ealing

In this week's speed read we consider the recent case of R (on the application of Laryea) v London Borough of Ealing, in which the Court reviewed London Borough of Ealing's (LBE) refusal to provide Mr Laryea with temporary accommodation pending an outcome of his s.202 Housing Act 1996 review.

Under s.202 of the Housing Act 1996, an applicant has the right to request a review of any decision of a local authority relating to the duties owed to persons found to be homeless.

In this case, Mr Laryea, who suffered from epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder, applied as homeless to LBE. LBE accepted that Mr Laryea was in priority need and placed him in temporary accommodation. However, soon after, LBE determined that Mr Laryea was actually intentionally homeless.

As a result, LBE informed Mr Laryea that they had discharged their duty to him under s.189B of the Housing Act 1996 and no longer had a duty to provide him with accommodation. Mr Laryea sought a review of this decision under s.202 of the Housing Act 1996 and requested that LBE provide him with temporary accommodation pending the outcome of this review. However, LBE refused to exercise their discretion to do so under s.204(4) of the Housing Act 1996 because Mr Laryea had not taken reasonable steps to comply with his personalised housing plan.

Consequently, Mr Laryea applied to the Court for a review of LBE’s refusal to provide temporary accommodation. It was held by the Court that, although Mr Laryea had not fully complied with his personalised housing plan, his medical condition had to be taken into account. Medical evidence stated that Mr Laryea’s epilepsy would become more severe if he was homeless.

The Court was of the view that LBE’s decision making process did not engage with Mr Laryea’s physical and mental disabilities. LBE had failed to properly consider the negative consequences that Mr Laryea would experience if he was homeless. As a result, it was held that LBE’s decision making process was defective and relief was granted to Mr Laryea.

This case illustrates the importance of fully considering an applicant’s personal circumstances and in particular any disabilities when deciding whether to provide temporary accommodation, pending the outcome of a s.202 review. A local authority has a discretion to provide temporary accommodation but must consider all relevant factors when deciding whether to exercise this discretion.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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