Tina Conlan represented the local authority in the Court of Appeal in Kannan v Newham LBC, a case involving the impact of duration of accommodation on the question of suitability under the main homelessness duty

5th February 2019

The Court of Appeal quashed the review decision (and that of the Recorder below who had found in the authority’s favour), highlighting the need to consider the actual and likely future duration of such accommodation. LJ Lewison noted at §20:

“In addition, his opinion to the effect that temporary accommodation was not unacceptable on medical grounds was given on 1 February 2017. But how temporary was temporary? By the time of the review decision a further nine months had passed. As Mr Kannan’s solicitors had pointed out, by the time of the review decision Mr Kannan had been living in that accommodation for over a year. The reviewing officer recorded the argument as one of the four grounds for review; but failed to deal with it. The only circumstances that he contemplated might cause the accommodation to become unsuitable were a change in Mr Kannan’s circumstances or a deterioration in his health. The mere passage of time was not taken into account at all. What the reviewing officer appears to have done is to have divided accommodation in a binary way: either it was temporary or it was not. But, as Birmingham CC v Ali shows, that is not legally correct. Suitability is a question of degree: not one of classification into rigid categories. The accommodation might have been suitable in the short term, but not in the medium term, even within the overall context of the homelessness legislation in Part VII of the Act.”

In view of LJ Lewison’s remarks, authorities would be wise, as a matter of course, to consider the relevance of the duration of accommodation when assessing suitability.

The judgment in Kannan v Newham LBC [2019] EWCA Civ 57 can be found here.