New Judgment: Haile v London Borough of Waltham Forest  UKSC 34
20 Wednesday May 2015
On appeal from:  EWCA Civ 792
The Supreme Court allowed the appeal by a majority of 4-1 involving whether the respondent London Borough should have considered whether the appellant’s homelessness was intentional on the date she left the accommodation, or the date of Waltham Forest’s decision.
The appellant surrendered her tenancy in a hostel in 25 October 2011 and moved into temporary accommodation until she was asked to leave in November 2011 because of overcrowding. She had a baby in February 2012 and it is highlighted that she would not have been able to live in the hostel had she of continued to live there as it was for single persons only. The respondent authority decided that the appellant was intentionally homeless, and this was confirmed by a review officer in January 2013, because she has surrendered her tenancy in the hostel and ceased to occupy accommodation that was available to her. The appellant issued proceedings but her appeal was dismissed by the County Court and Court of Appeal.
Giving the majority judgment Lord Reed stated that the Housing Act 1996, s 193(1), intended to prevent “queue jumping” by persons who intentionally rendered themselves homeless. In order to establish this, it should be considered whether they deliberately did or failed to do anything which resulted in them ceasing to occupy accommodation meeting the requirements under s 191(1) of the Act. It then must be considered their homelessness was caused by that intentional conduct. Upon considering the rule in Din v Wandsworth London Borough Council  1 AC 657, Lord Reed reasoned that the review officer did not consider whether the cause of the appellant’s current state of homelessness was her surrender of her tenancy at the hostel. The birth of the appellant’s baby meant she would be homeless at the time her case was considered, regardless of whether or not her tenancy had been surrendered. She had therefore not jumped the queue.