Social housing pressure

Posted: 16th August 2016

Intense pressure on social housing means that hard decisions sometimes have to be made. In one striking case, the High Court opened the way for eviction of a son from his family home of almost 20 years after both his parents died from cancer.

FlatsThe man had nursed his parents through their illnesses in the two-bedroom council house where the family had lived since he was 14. However, following their deaths, he had no right to succeed to their tenancy and was served with notice to quit. He was offered a one-bedroom flat but launched a judicial review challenge.

His lawyers pointed out that his same-sex partner and the latter’s brother also lived in the flat. The brother suffered from a severe form of diabetes which frequently necessitated emergency hospital admissions. It was submitted that the three of them formed a single household and required two-bedroom accommodation.

In dismissing his claim, however, the Court could find no legal flaw in the council’s view that the brother was not a permanent member of the household and that his medical condition was not so serious that he would be incapable of independent living. A one-bedroom property would be suitable for the man and his partner.

The Court noted the enormous demand for social housing in the council’s area, with over 4,400 households in search of a two-bedroom home. In a better world, the man would have been permitted to stay in his home but, in the circumstances, the council was constrained to make tough decisions.