Nick Grundy QC and Michael Mullin represented the London Borough of Waltham Forest before the Court of Appeal on Ms Akhter’s second appeal against the Council’s Review Decision that it had made Ms Akhter a suitable Private Rented Sector Offer (“PRSO”) and that her refusal of that offer had brought to an end the housing duty that Council owed her.
On the basis of Nick and Michael’s submissions the Court of Appeal rejected Ms Akhter’s second appeal on substantially the same grounds as HHJ Gerrard rejected her statutory s. 204 Appeal; however the case was heard with another appeal on similar grounds: Hajjaj v City of Westminster and the Court of Appeal provided useful guidance on how LHAs should satisfy the requirements of Art 3 of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012.
Art 3 of the 2012 Order requires an LHA to be satisfied of a number of factors relating either to the condition of accommodation offered as a PRSO, or to the suitability of the landlord and requires the LHA to have approved the tenancy that the landlord proposes to grant the applicant. The last of these criteria is contained in Art. 3(1)(j).
The Court held that an LHA has to have material before it upon which it can be satisfied that the accommodation and landlord meet the necessary criteria and cannot simply assume that that is the case because the landlord is an established partner with a proven track record of meeting those criteria: See -. In Hajjaj v WCC the landlord of the PRSO offered to Mr Hajjaj was the homeless charity St Mungos.
In relation to the tenancy agreement requirement the Court held that it was not necessary for the Council to have seen a copy of the tenancy where the landlord was an established provider if there was a standard form of tenancy agreement . However, if the landlord of the PRSO is a new provider or one who has a poor track record the LHA will have to show that it had a copy of the tenancy agreement before it made to the offer to show compliance with Art 3(1)(j).
A copy of the judgment is available here