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R (Minott) v Cambridge City Council [2021] EWHC 211 (Admin)

In R(Minott) v. Cambridge City Council [2021] EWHC 211 (Admin), the High Court held that unlawful occupation of homelessness temporary accommodation is not normal residence and therefore cannot establish a local connection for the purposes of homelessness assistance.

Mr Toby Vanhegan appeared for the Claimant.

On 26 March 2019 the claimant applied to the defendants for homelessness assistance. On 27 March 2019 they placed him in temporary accommodation in their area ("the property"). On 8 August 2019 the defendants referred the relief duty to Sandwell MBC and informed him of their decision that he had a local connection there. On 19 August 2019 they informed the claimant that the conditions for referral were met, Sandwell had accepted the referral, and they owed him no further housing duties. On 22 August 2019 the claimant requested a review. On 23 August 2019 he was served with a notice to terminate his accommodation on 2 September.

On 25 September 2019 the defendants completed the review, and upheld the decision to refer. On 26 September 2019 the claimant had spent 6 months at the property. He did not appeal the review, but on 17 October 2019 he made a fresh homelessness application on the basis that he had established a local connection through residence. By emails sent on 21 and 29 October 2019, the defendants refused to accept the fresh application. The claimant challenged that refusal by way of judicial review. The claim was heard by HHJ Lickley QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court. He handed down judgment on 8 February 2021.

The High Court held that the claimant had been in unlawful occupation of the property since 2 September 2019, and the defendants owed him no housing duty from the time that Sandwell accepted the referral. Further, in the circumstances of the case, the simple passing of time and the unlawful occupation could not amount to a new fact for the purposes of a fresh homelessness application. The claimant therefore did not have a local connection with the defendants' area but with Sandwell who had accepted the referral.

It was also held that the new application was wholly fanciful because the claimant's refusal to leave the property and engage with Sandwell, was tantamount to a manipulation of the homeless statutory regime. If such conduct was permissible, any person in similar circumstances, without a local connection, who was dissatisfied with a referral decision, would be able to frustrate the referral system by refusing to leave until such time as he had resided for 6 months in that area.

Counsel instructed by Dirghayu Patel at GT Stewart Solicitors.

The full Judgment can be found here.

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