Outline of the Case

The Facts

ZK applied to Havering under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996. They accepted a duty to house him but did not provide suitable accommodation. He issued Judicial Review proceedings on the basis that the council had not carried out a proper assessment of his housing needs. This meant that council had acted unlawfully in making him the offer of accommodation which he had received.

The Judgment

Havering had unlawfully failed to carry out an adequate assessment and/or draw up an adequate Personal Housing Plan. This was because the documents which they had prepared did not amount to evidence of a proper assessment which dealt with the “nuts and bolts” of the housing needs of the applicant his family (a term referred to in the earlier case of R (S) v Waltham Forest LBC 2016 and/or a coherent plan. These documents would not enable a new housing officer picking up the case to know that the applicant’s housing needs were and what the plan was for meeting them.

Takeaway Points

At paragraph 39, having pointed out that the Housing Needs Assessment report and Personal Housing Plan do not have to be in a particular format there is a threshold of whether a new housing officer on taking over the case would be able to tell from the report what the outcome of the assessment was and what was planned.

The judge states at paragraph 45

Taking together the various PHPs and the Williams Report (the documents that were provided to ZK) I find that the distinction between the Claimant's "wishes and desires" and his "needs" is not sufficiently clear as for it to be obvious to the "reasonable and sensible housing officer" what exactly is needed for the Claimant and his family to find and retain suitable accommodation. The three PHPs make reference to "housing wishes" and there are notes throughout the documentation making reference to issues the Claimant has advised about including health issues, information about his family and matters relating to the four core needs and the Claimant's assertion that they need an extra bedroom. However, taken together, these observations do not amount to an assessment or identification of the Claimant's housing needs that is accepted by the Defendant. For these reasons, in my judgement, the current file does not constitute an adequate and lawful assessment of ZK's needs as required under s.189A of the 1996 Act.

The Judge was critical of the council had made was to refer to the applicant’s housing wishes rather than housing needs without stating whether these were recognised and agreed.