Council overturns unlawful housing policy

5 Nov 2021 | William Ford

Homeless teenager claims victory for more than 1,200 homeless people after forcing council to overturn unlawful housing policy

A homeless teenager has forced a London Council to overturn its unlawful housing policy – helping more than 1,200 homeless individuals and families onto the council housing list.

Shadacia White, 18, was due to take Brent Council to the High Court on Wednesday (27 October) to stop Brent from unlawfully preventing homeless people from bidding for a council house.

But with the help of housing litigation specialist, Sam O’Flaherty, she had managed to make Brent change their policy and to put things right for those who had been affected, on the eve of the High Court hearing.

Figures from the council revealed that 1,233 homeless households who were previously deemed ineligible for council housing would have their applications for social housing updated from 29 October to allow them to finally bid for a home.

Shadacia, a university marketing student, previously won her own case to be placed on the council housing list but wanted to continue the fight to get Brent to change the policy for all homeless people.

Hundreds of homeless people in the borough have been prevented from bidding for housing for the past eight years, as they were deemed ‘no priority’.

Shadacia said: “We have finally achieved justice for the hundreds of homeless people in Brent who have been banned from bidding on the housing list despite being homeless and legal right to bid. Surely those who are homeless need a home the most, yet Brent has been illegally banning them from being placed on a housing list or placing them into the lowest priority ‘Band D’ so that they could not bid? When I won my own case I wanted to keep on fighting for all of those who are affected by this inhumane policy.

“While I am pleased that Brent has finally changed its policy, it really shouldn’t have taken a homeless teenage student standing up against them to change it.”

Shadacia White was originally told she would not even be considered for a house by Brent Council despite being homeless and living in temporary accommodation before she won her case and was placed on the housing list.

Shadacia, who currently lives in temporary accommodation with her mother, sister and autistic brother, has been ‘sofa surfing’ throughout her childhood. She says her childhood was hard as she rarely had a home.

She said: “The last few years have been a struggle and there were times when mum took us to Heathrow to sleep as we had nowhere else to go. Mum would just walk around all day in the cold. I went into school and told them what was happening and that I just wanted somewhere warm to stay and they got me a social worker and temporary accommodation.”

Brent Council’s allocation scheme currently places applicants in priority bands D to A, where A is the highest priority. People in higher priority bands out-bid people in lower priority bands who express an interest in the same property on Brent’s housing register. People in band D are not allowed to bid at all.

Brent’s scheme currently says homeless applicants have ‘no priority’ and will be placed in band D, so that they can’t bid. The only exception to this is if Brent had accepted a ‘main housing duty’ towards a homelessness applicant. This requires the applicant to meet specific criteria that goes beyond being homeless, such as having a serious enough health condition.

The law says Brent has to give ‘reasonable preference’ to homeless people even if they are not owed the ‘main housing duty’, meaning that the current policy is unlawful according to lawyers at Osbornes Law.

Sam O’Flaherty, representing Shadacia, said: “We are delighted that Brent has agreed to reverse its policy around placing homeless people on the housing list. It is unfortunate that we needed to issue proceedings to ensure that this happened and was done properly. As a result of Shadacia’s claim, not only have Brent agreed to change their policy by February 2022, but they have also agreed to a series of measures to ensure that homeless households do not continue to be deprived of their right to bid for social housing in the meantime, and for previously affected homeless households to be contacted and given an opportunity to join the Housing Register and bid if they are still eligible. Regrettably, I am not confident this would have been achieved without Shadacia having fought this all the way to the High Court. It is a testament to her that she has managed to achieve this and continued to fight even when she had won her own case.”

Brent Council says that did not know about the issue with their policy until Shadacia’s solicitors wrote to them on 11 March, 2021 raising it.

The judicial review proceedings in the High Court have now been put on hold until 15 March next year to allow Brent to carry out its promised changes. Shadacia can restart proceedings before that date if Brent fail to do so.

If you would like to speak to Sam O’Flaherty about a housing litigation case, please call us, or complete an online enquiry form.

You can also read the article in the Mirror here

Share this article

Contact

Contact Sam today

For a free initial conversation call 0207 485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    • My case was handled by Sam O'Flaherty. He was professional throughout, I was regularly kept up to date, he was friendly, competent and positive in what was a difficult and tricky case culminating in an excellently successful result. Thank you very much you are highly recommended.

      Client review

    • Samuel O'Flaherty has managed 3 different claims regarding housing (possession/eviction order) and benefits entitlement to date. His service is impeccable. He is extremely thorough in his investigations and has achieved two successful outcomes for the client so far. I have complete faith that success with the third outcome will be achieved through his diligence and commitment to providing a top quality service. I would highly recommend his services and that of the Osborne Law in general to anyone who needs legal representation to address such matters.

      Audrey Litchmore Outreach Worker, NOPA

    • “I am very happy with the service I was provided by Sam, he is very good at his job. Really impressed with the service.”

      Client review

    • “Best lawyer, Thank you for your wonderful work Sam O’Flaherty.”

      Client review

    • “Osbornes represented me in a housing matter against a local authority for over 3 years. They provided an excellent service and a better result than expected. I’m especially grateful to have had the help of their solicitor Sam O’Flaherty who pursued my case relentlessly and was always very approachable and clear in his explanations of what is going on at each stage. I really recommend them.”

      Client review

    • Sam will keep fighting for his clients after many others would have thrown the towel in, and is exceptionally creative in finding a route to success

      Ed Fitzpatrick, barrister at Garden Court Chambers

    • I received an excellent service with Osbornes law, and more specifically Samuel O'Flaherty. Samuel's communication with me was awesome he was efficient and supportive in decisions making Samuel help me and my son to secure a home even when I almost lost hope, l will would highly recommend Osbornes law especially Samuel. am very pleased with the service I received. Thank you Samuel.

      Tina T

    Insights from Sam O'FlahertyVIEW ALL

    1. london property
      9.6.2022

      Trusts of Land

      What are trusts of land? Property ownership is not always a straightforward legal issue, particularly where the parties are cohabitees...

      Read more
    2. right to light
      8.6.2022

      Right to Light Law

      Right to Light Law in the UK Property owners have a legal right to light as set out in the...

      Read more
    3. flats in a london street
      8.6.2022

      Landlords and the Dangers of Rent-to-Rent

      Rent-to-Rent refers to the practice of landlords letting a whole property to a tenant (usually a limited company), which is...

      Read more
    4. 31.5.2022

      Osbornes Law announces 2022 promotions

      Osbornes Law is delighted to announce its latest, all-female, round of promotions. Family lawyer Claire Andrews becomes the firm’s 21...

      Read more
    5. 30.5.2022

      The uncertainties of beginning a building project now

      The construction industry is seeing a perfect storm at the moment with labour shortages following Brexit and material costs which...

      Read more
    6. bicycle wheel
      30.5.2022

      Injured London cyclist receives settlement and medical treatment

      Cycling accident lawyer, Laura Swaine, recently settled a claim for an injured cyclist who sustained serious injuries to her wrist...

      Read more
    7. Neglijenta medicala spital din UK
      23.5.2022

      Settlement of a case following serious injuries caused...

      The Clinical Negligence team at Osbornes Law have recently negotiated the settlement of a case in which our client sustained...

      Read more
    8. open door - how to get a divorce
      19.5.2022

      How to get a divorce

      Step-by-step Guide to Getting Divorced In April 2022, new no-fault divorce rules replaced the old fault-based system in England and Wales....

      Read more
    9. london house
      16.5.2022

      Immediate, Non-Deferrable and Unqualified

      Judgment was handed down on 04 May 2022 in the Court of Appeal in an important case regarding the main housing duty....

      Read more
    10. 6.5.2022

      My ex has cut me off during divorce

      Unfortunately, it is far too common that when a client says it’s over, their spouse with the “purse strings”...

      Read more
    11. 6.5.2022

      How the Court views loans from parents during...

      A frequent issue in financial divorce cases is a loan from a spouse’s parent, often to pay legal fees,...

      Read more
    12. mesher order house
      5.5.2022

      Mesher Orders Explained

      What is a Mesher order? A Mesher Order allows the sale of the family home to be postponed in a...

      Read more
    13. highway code bike lights
      5.5.2022

      Top 10 Major Highway Code Changes for Cyclists

      New Highway Code rules for cyclists At the end of January 2022, the Highway Code was updated to make British roads...

      Read more
    14. E Bicycle
      4.5.2022

      Settlement reached for cyclist client after insurers deny...

      Personal Injury specialist, Laura Swaine, recently settled a cycling injury claim following the driver fleeing the accident site and refusing...

      Read more
    15. 28.4.2022

      Calls for Public Inquiry into Vaginal Mesh Surgery

      A leading professor from the University of Oxford has called for a public inquiry into the use of vaginal mesh...

      Read more
    16. 14.4.2022

      Severe abdominal pain prolonged due to failed surgery

      Jodi Newton was instructed in a claim against London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust where our client suffered serious...

      Read more
    17. 12.4.2022

      Mediation or Arbitration: What’s best for me?

      Few divorcing couples want to end up in court, which is why mediation and arbitration are faster and more effective...

      Read more
    18. 12.4.2022

      Vulnerable child wrongly assessed to be an adult

      Upper Tribunal finds a vulnerable child to be 17 years old despite two flawed local authority age assessments which led to...

      Read more
    19. person receiving bad news
      11.4.2022

      Late Cancer Diagnosis Crisis Within NHS

      The Health and Social Care Committee recently released a 52-page report on cancer services, expanding on the crisis in England (...

      Read more
    20. 11.4.2022

      The End of The Blame Game!

      No-fault divorce will make divorce more amicable  The divorce ‘blame game’ has been consigned to history and the long-awaited reforms...

      Read more
    21. 11.4.2022

      Divorcing couples reaching financial settlement through Private FDR

      The Runaway Advantages of the Private FDR Our specialist lawyers are keen to ensure our divorcing clients achieve cost-effective outcomes...

      Read more
    22. 6.4.2022

      Stephanie Prior Comments on the Ockenden ‘Maternity Scandal’...

      Following the publication of the Ockenden Report, an independent review of maternity services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust,...

      Read more
    23. 6.4.2022

      The End of Ground Rents

      The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 It has been confirmed that The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 will come into...

      Read more
    24. Explaining NHS Never Events
      5.4.2022

      NHS Gynaecology waiting lists rise due to coronavirus

      It has been reported today in the press that as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, gynaecology waiting lists in...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL