The central issue in this Appeal was whether it was “reasonable...to continue to occupy”, within the meaning of sections 175(3) and 191(1) of the Housing Act 1996, accommodation which had been provided by the Council.
The Appellant, Mr Kyle, has a history of drug abuse. In November 2020, Coventry City Council accepted it had a duty to secure him accommodation under s.188 HA 1996.
Issues arose with Mr Kyle’s behaviour in the two rooms initially offered to him by the Council. In August 2021, he was relocated on an emergency basis to a room at 79 St Margaret Road, Coventry. This was a bespoke multi-occupation ‘halfway house’ providing support for recovering drug addicts. A final warning was given to Mr Kyle that stated that the Council’s duty would be discharged if he was evicted for anti-social behaviour, having guests or breaking the accommodation rules.
In March 2022, the Council accepted that it owed Mr Kyle the ‘full housing duty’ under s.193 HA 1996. Subsequently, the provider at 79 St Margaret Road made a request to the Council for Mr Kyle’s eviction after he had broken into and stolen items from other rooms. In April 2022, the Council concluded that the main housing duty had ended as Mr Kyle had become intentionally homeless within the meaning of s.191(1) Housing Act 1996. That decision was confirmed on review. Mr Kyle appealed to the County Court but was unsuccessful at first instance.
The Court of Appeal
Mr Kyle’s main contention was that he could not have become “homeless intentionally” within the meaning of section 191(1) of the 1996 Act as 79 St Margaret Road had not been accommodation “which it would have been reasonable for him to continue to occupy”. It was contended that 79 St Margaret Road, was analogous to the women’s refuge in Birmingham City Council v Aweys & Ors  EWCA Civ 48 and Birmingham City Council v Ali & Ors  UKHL 36 wherein Ms Moran was held to have remained “homeless” notwithstanding temporary safe haven in the refuge.
LJ Newey noted a few points drawn from the authorities :
A person does not have to be entitled to remain in accommodation indefinitely, or for any particular period of time, for it to be “reasonable for him to continue to occupy” it, and
The physical characteristics of accommodation will often be of central importance in determining whether it is “reasonable … to continue to occupy” it. Restrictions affecting the person’s life in, and use of, the accommodation may also be relevant as well as factors such as affordability, violence, abuse and threats.
In dismissing the Appeal, it was held that:
At the time of his requested eviction, Mr Kyle had lived at 79 St Margaret Road for seven months. The Council had already accepted it owed the main housing duty. He could have expected to receive an offer of alternative accommodation in the near future. The review officer was entitled to conclude he had accommodation which it was “reasonable for him to continue to occupy” .
79 St Margaret Road was materially different in characteristics from the women’s refuge in Aweys/Moran. It was “temporary” accommodation and not a “place to live”, Ms Moran didn’t have a right to a specific room. The refuge also had special rules including no men in the surrounding area and non-disclosure of the address .
It was hard to see how matters such as a no-visitors policy, restricted smoking and that 79 St Margaret Road was only available for a short period could detract from the reasonableness of continued occupation. On the contrary, the prospect of Mr Kyle being re-housed soon would have tended to confirm that it was “reasonable [for him] to continue to occupy” it .
In the circumstances, there was unanimous support that Mr Kyle had become homeless intentionally and the Appeal was dismissed.