We had previously assisted this client with possession proceedings for anti-social behaviour and he was eventually evicted. We then assisted our client to make a homeless application and obtain suitable temporary accommodation. The council eventually made a homeless decision and found that our client was intentionally homeless, and they also decided to discharge the homeless relief duty. We assisted to review both these decisions but they were both upheld upon review, however the review decision was made outside of the required time period.
Our client is affected by Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and ADHD. As a result he experiences intense and unstable feelings about everyday situations. He is acutely sensitive to rejection, negative attitudes, criticism and feelings of failure. He finds it extremely difficult to cope with stressful thoughts and feelings and suffers with significant anxiety. He experiences a high degree of paranoia and therefore interprets others intentions and day to day situations as personally threatening. He also has substance misuse issues and a regular support worker. As a result, there were arguments that our clients previous accommodation was not reasonable to occupy and also that any homelessness was not intentional as it was caused by a temporary aberration of the mind; these arguments were supported by an expert report and Care Act assessment.
There were procedural difficulties in this appeal. The case law at the time the appellant’s notice was lodged allowed the appellant to choose between validating the late review decision or appealing the original homeless decision. As no review decision had been made within the time limit, we appealed the original decisions in the county court. However, there was a subsequent change in the case law when Stanley v Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council was decided by Court of Appeal on 6 November 2020. This case contained remarks which inferred that in most instances where a late review decision was made, the S204 appeal should be against the review decision. As this was now more than 21 days since the review decision, our application included a request to allow an out of time appeal. The application was successful and the grounds were amended.
When the grounds were amended a new argument was included that raised whether the decision to outsource the review decision had been properly delegated. This was supported by freedom of information requests we had made.
In the days preceding the appeal hearing the Council settled the proceedings and awarded the main housing duty under S.193(2) Housing Act 1996.