Dear HLPA members,

HLPA has been approached for assistance with an information gathering exercise. Its solicitor/trainee solicitor/paralegal members are invited to spare a few minutes to complete a 7 question survey relating to casework experience of clients who have approached the London Borough of Brent for housing assistance – Please provide responses by 20/09/2021.

The purpose of the survey is to further inform issues in a judicial review challenge of Brent’s Allocations Scheme. Representatives of both parties are HLPA members; Sam O’Flaherty of Osbornes Law and Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers for the Claimant and Justin Bates of Landmark Chambers for the Defendant. The survey has been prepared by the Claimant’s representatives.

What is the judicial review challenge about?

It is accepted between the parties that Brent’s 2013 Allocations Scheme, as currently drafted, fails to give reasonable preference to homeless applicants who have not had a main s193(2) homelessness duty accepted, contrary to s166A(3)(a)-(b) of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended). The scheme places them in Band D where they are prohibited from bidding at all. It only affords reasonable preference to those homeless applicants who have had a s193(2) accepted, by placing them in Band C.

A Freedom of Information response from Brent indicated that 847 applicants since 2013 presented as homeless but the main duty was not accepted and were either placed in Band D or had their applications refused. It also confirmed that there are currently 638 applicants in Band D who presented as homeless but have not had a main duty accepted.

Brent are amending the Scheme to rectify the fault and have agreed to take steps to identify affected applicants, with a view to affording them reasonable preference. There is a dispute about whether the proposed steps are adequate and whether the timeframe for amending the Scheme is justified (by January/February 2022, following consultation & approval).

There is also a dispute about whether the Claimant still has standing, as they have had a main duty accepted and been placed in Band C as a result since the challenge was raised.

A permission hearing is due to be listed at the end of October or in November 2021.

If HLPA members know of homeless clients in the Brent area that may fall within the affected group and wish to take part in the proceedings, they are welcome to contact Sam O’Flaherty of Osbornes Law.

Samuel O’Flaherty
Litigation & Housing & Social Care Departments
Direct Dial: 020 7681 8406