Moge v Ealing  EWCA Civ - Toby Vanhegan and Stephanie Lovegrove
Moge v. London Borough of Ealing  EWCA Civ
The Court of Appeal held that the local housing authority had not acted in breach of their Procurement Policy when making a final accommodation offer, and that section 208(1) did not require them to consider properties that had been earmarked for Part 6 allocations, when discharging the relief duty.
The appellant applied to the respondents for homelessness assistance under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 ("the Act"). They accepted that they owed her the relief duty under section 189B(2).
The respondents made her a final accommodation offer which she refused. The respondents then decided that the refusal had ended the relief duty and the appellant was not owed the full housing duty under section 193(2). She requested a review of suitability and the discharge decision. On review, the respondents decided that the property was suitable, and the appellant's refusal had brought their duties to an end under Part 7. The offer was of accommodation in the London Borough of Hounslow.
The appellant appealed to the county court which dismissed the appeal. She was granted permission for a second appeal to the Court of Appeal. She argued that the respondents were in breach of section 208(1) because they had not carried out a lawful search for accommodation in or near their area, and did not search for properties that had been earmarked for allocation under Part 6 of the Act.
The respondents filed and served a Respondent's Notice which sought permission to rely upon a witness statement of Ms Grant which gave evidence that the respondents' officers generally comply with the relevant policies. The Court gave permission to rely upon Ms Grant's statement and concluded that it showed that the respondents had acted in compliance with section 208(1) of the Act.
On the second issue, the appellant relied upon R(Elkundi) v. Birmingham City Council  EWCA Civ 601,  QB 604 per Lewis LJ at  and  for the proposition that an authority can use Part 6 stock to discharge Part 7 duties. The respondents argued that there was nothing in their allocation scheme that would permit the use of Part 6 accommodation to discharge Part 7 duties, this may cause problems with their nomination agreements, and there was such a high demand for allocations, that it was highly unlikely that they would consider redeploying Part 6 accommodation for Part 7 use.
The Court agreed with the respondents. It held that section 208(1) only requires an authority to take steps which are "reasonably practicable" and, even if Part 6 accommodation had been available in Ealing at the time of the offer, it would not have been reasonably practicable for the council to have made bespoke arrangements to offer that accommodation under Part 7. The fact that the respondents' officers did not investigate such a possibility, was not a breach of section 208(1) of the Act.
Full judgment attached.