Nick Grundy QC, acting for Cambridge City Council (“CCC”), successfully resisted this claim. Victoria Osler also acted for CCC in the proceedings.
Please find a copy of the judgment here.
In Mohamed v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC  UKHL 57, the House of Lords held that interim accommodation provided by a Local Housing Authority (“LHA”) could be ’normal residence’ for the purposes of the local connection provisions in the Housing Act 1996, ss. 199(1)(a).
LHAs have agreed a code for resolving disputes about referrals. Insofar as ‘local connection’ through ‘normal residence’ is concerned, that code has the following guidance, at para. 4.3(i):
“It is suggested that a working definition of “normal residence” should be residence for at least 6 months in the area during the previous 12 months, or for not less than 3 years during the previous 5-year period. The period taken into account should be up to the date of the authority’s decision. This should include any periods living in temporary accommodation secured by the authority under s.188 (…)”
Thus, 6 months’ residence in interim accommodation can give rise to a local connection.
- On 26.3.2019 Mr Minott applied to CCC as homeless with his infant daughter.
- CCC provided him with interim accommodation under HA 96, ss. 188(1).
- In August 2019 Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (“Sandwell MBC”) accepted a referral of Mr Minott’s case under ss. 189(A1). This allows a local connection referral before a S. 184 decision is made.
- So, CCC’s ss. 188(1) duty to house Mr Minott ended. It had no other duty to house him.
- CCC served notice ending Mr Minott’s licence to occupy the accommodation (“NtQ”).
- Mr Minot sought a review. CCC declined to provide accommodation pending review.
- The review decision was made on 28.8.2019 upholding the referral to Sandwell MBC.
- Mr Minott refused to leave the interim accommodation and CCC subsequently issued a possession claim.
- In October 2019 Mr Minott made a new homeless application on the ground that he had resided in Cambridge for the last 6 months between 26.3.2019 and 27.9.2019.
- CCC refused to accept the new application.
CCC’s case was that it was within the range of reasonable decisions for it to hold that occupation of accommodation that was not provided pursuant to any housing duty and was, after expiry of the NtQ, unlawful, did not amount to ‘normal residence’ and was not within the principle established in Mohamed v LB H&F.
HHJ Lickley QC held, at paragraph 44, that Mr Minott’s case was wholly fanciful because:
(v) … The actions of [Mr Minott] to frustrate CCC in not leaving the accommodation as he was required to, in preventing CCC from changing the locks and thereby preventing others from using the much needed temporary accommodation and failing to engage with [SMBC] is tantamount to a manipulation of the homeless statutory regime;
(vi) If such conduct were permissible any person in similar circumstances without a local connection who was dissatisfied with a referral decision, as an example, would be able to frustrate the referral system by refusing to leave until such time as he had resided for 6 months in one area.