Housing allocation scheme to be reviewed following discrimination challenge

Beatrice Patrick, a solicitor in our housing and public law team, recently achieved a successful outcome in a case for a refugee who had fled severe violence in her home country, who was unable to go onto a council’s housing waiting list because she had not lived in the borough for 5 years.

The argument that succeeded for our client was that as it stood, the policy amounted to unlawful discrimination against those fleeing certain types of violence, and refugees.

As a result of the case, the London Borough of Hounslow have agreed to review their policy regarding the residence criteria and in the meantime to make temporary changes to their scheme and to place information about this on their website.

Hopkin Murray Beskine’s housing and public law team has extensive expertise in advising applicants with housing needs who are excluded from obtaining social housing because of their length of residence. This can include similar challenges for vulnerable applicants who have had to flee to a new area due to domestic violence.

Further information about the recent case is below:

Hounslow housing allocation scheme to be reviewed following discrimination challenge

The London Borough of Hounslow is to review its housing allocation scheme to avoid unlawful discrimination against refugees and those fleeing violence, following a claim for judicial review.

The claimant, BN, represented by Hopkin Murray Beskine solicitors, was a refugee who had fled severe gender-based violence in her home country and had lived in Hounslow since arriving in the UK. Her application to join Hounslow’s housing register was refused on the basis that she did not meet the residence criterion under the scheme, which requires applicants to have lived in the borough for 5 years.

BN issued a claim for judicial review of the residence requirement, on the basis that it unlawfully discriminated against her as a refugee and as a victim of gender-based violence.

Hounslow agreed to settle the case and to take the following steps:

1. To carry out a review of the residence criterion;

2. Pending any amendments arising out of the review, to disapply the criterion in relation to applicants who are refugees and/or who have fled non-domestic gender-based violence; and

3. To publish details of the disapplication on its website within 14 days of the order, to ensure that potential applicants are aware of their entitlement to join its housing register.

In order to promote open justice, Mr Justice Fordham handed down a short judgment recording the full terms of the order (R (BN) v Hounslow LBC [2023] EWHC 3083 (Admin)).

Jamie Burton KC and Daniel Clarke of Doughty Street Chambers represented BN, instructed by Beatrice Patrick of Hopkin Murray Beskine solicitors.

Published On: 21/12/2023|
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