In a High Court judgment yesterday, R(Alemi) v Westminster CC  EWHC 1765 (Admin) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/1765.html, HHJ Blair QC ruled Westminster Council’s housing allocations policy unlawful. The latest in a number of legal judgments criticising the council’s housing policy, the Council’s arguments that it was justified in excluding families found in priority need the ability to bid for social housing for 12 months were demolished in court.
The case, brought by a Westminster family made homeless from private rented accommodation due to the benefit cap and recognised as owed a full housing duty by Westminster City Council, is the latest in a number of recent cases where the council’s housing policy has failed under proper scrutiny. Previously the Housing Ombudsman criticised the council for illegally placing families in B&B accommodation for extended periods of time.
Commenting on yesterday’s judgement Westminster Council’s Labour housing spokesperson, Councillor Vincenzo Rampulla said:
“Westminster Council’s housing allocation policy is a mess. Once again the council has sought, and lost, a costly court case to defend a housing allocation policy that continues to short change Westminster families.”
“First we had the council admit that it was breaking the law by keeping families in unsuitable B&B accommodation, in many cases for years, and now we see the council excluding families from applying for a social tenancy that might be able to provide them a home. The irony of the council trying to push more families into the private rent sector, some of the very landlords that are kicking out families by driving up rents in Westminster, is painful.
“The council needs to face up to Westminster’s social housing need. Wasting millions of pounds on high cost, nightly booked temporary accommodation and losing expensive court cases is not the answer.
“Building more social and genuinely affordable housing in Westminster is vital in order to respond to this crisis.”