Homelessness applications: Minott v Cambridge City Council

01 March 2022

This case was considered by the Court of Appeal and it concerns the right of a homeless person to make a further homelessness application to a local authority when new (or allegedly new) facts may have come to light.

The Court of Appeal has previously held that local authorities are not permitted to make inquiries regarding the accuracy of any further facts before deciding whether the homeless person can make a new application (See R v Harrow Ex p Fahia [1998] and Begum (Rikha) v Tower Hamlets LBC [2005]).

In the this case Mr Minott had made a successful application to Cambridge City Council (Cambridge), but Cambridge held that he did not have a local connection because he had not been resident in Cambridge’s district for six out of the previous twelve months, or three out of the previous five years.

Two months after this decision Mr Minott made a further homelessness application on the basis that he had (by then) been present in Cambridge for at least six of the previous twelve months.

Cambridge argued that under the terms of the Code of Guidance 2018 (the Code), as it had been trying to evict Mr Minott from its temporary accommodation, his further residence in their district did not count for the purpose of establishing a normal residence.

Therefore Cambridge refused a further homelessness application because it considered that the facts relied on in the further application were the same as the first application made by Mr Minott.

Mr Minott applied for a judicial review of Cambridge’s decision, which was dismissed by the High Court and so he appealed.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal held (allowing the appeal from Mr Minott) that:

  1. section 193(9) Housing Act 1996 didn’t put any limit on the right of a homelessness applicant to make a further application (even if a local connection referral had been made);
  2. a local authority could refuse a further application if it was identical to the previous one;
  3. the new application made by Mr Minott was neither "fanciful or trivial" because the six-month residence (required by part 10.7 of the Code) was satisfied;
  4. residence in interim accommodation provided by a local authority could count towards the six months residence requirement under the Code;
  5. proceeding (as the High Court and Cambridge had) on the basis that unlawful occupation of interim accommodation was to be disregarded when assessing residence in an area was the incorrect approach because (as per R v Harrow Ex p Fahia [1998] and Begum (Rikha) v Tower Hamlets LBC [2005] above) the local authority cannot make inquiries regarding the accuracy of any further facts before it decided whether the homeless person can make a new application; and
  6. rather than initially considering the question of whether the applicant has a local connection (as the High Court and Cambridge had), the first question to consider is whether an applicant has made a new application, i.e. Cambridge had reasoned backwards.

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The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at March 2022.



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