Successful homelessness judicial review case against Redbridge Council

13 Sep 2023 | William Ford

Table of Contents

This matter involved a claim in the High Court for judicial review against Redbridge Council for failure to comply with its duties under the Housing Act 1996 and the Children Act 2004. William Ford and Sarika Singh of the Housing and Social Department were instructed in this matter.

The claim was brought by our client who was a homeless single mother with three young children aged three, five and eleven. The client’s eleven-year-old daughter had been doing very well in education and was undertaking her SATs exams at her school in Tottenham.

Our client approached Redbridge Council for homelessness assistance after being evicted from her Home Office accommodation upon being granted leave to remain in the UK as a refugee. On 7 October 2022 our client was told to leave her Home Office accommodation by 8 November 2022, and she notified Redbridge Council of this in October 2022.

On 8 November 2022 our client and her family were accommodated by Redbridge Council in a hotel which was around a 2 hour journey via public transport to her children’s school, including a thirty-minute walk down an unlit country road. Our client was subsequently accommodated in over ten different hotels by Redbridge Council in the span of five months, none of which had cooking or laundry facilities. Our client had no choice but to rely on fast food to feed her children and she washed her children’s clothes at their school in Tottenham. The hotels were generally between 1 ½ hours and  2 ½ hours via public transport from the children’s school, and our client and her children were forced to travel these distances every school day. This had a significant impact on our client and her children’s wellbeing and education, as well as upon our client’s finances. During this period, Redbridge Council failed to lawfully assess our client’s housing needs and failed to produce an adequate housing needs assessment and personalised housing plan for our client.

The only alternative to hotel accommodation that was offered to our client was accommodation in Peterborough. Our client could not accept this accommodation as moving there would have severely disrupted her children’s education, as it would have required our client to change her children’s school in the middle of the academic year. There has also been no attempt to locate accommodation closer to the borough of Redbridge, as required under s208 of the Housing Act 1996. Upon our client refusing an offer  of accommodation in Peterborough Redbridge Council then decided to end its duty to house her and her family..

A judicial review claim was issued against Redbridge Council and on 8 June 2023, the High Court allowed the claim, which succeeded on all four grounds. The Judge, Mr Justice Lane, held that:

  • Redbridge Council’s initial housing needs assessment and personalised housing plan were unlawful and contrary to the Council’s duties under the Housing Act 1996, when considered in light of its duty to promote the welfare of children in its borough under s11 of the Children Act 2004.
  • Redbridge Council had failed to conduct a lawful review of our client’s housing needs and the suitability of the accommodation it offered to our client.
  • Redbridge Council’s decisions that the hotel accommodation and accommodation offered in Peterborough were suitable for our client were unlawful.
  • Redbridge Council’s decision to end its duty to house our client and her family under the Housing Act 1996 after she refused the offer of accommodation in Peterborough was also unlawful, because the accommodation was not suitable for our client.

The family have subsequently been provided with self-contained accommodation within the Borough of Redbridge.

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