Negative homelessness decision overturned for woman with disabilities

18th August 2020 By Arman Khosravi

Oliver Fisher trainee Nilaufar Alothiya has successfully overturned a decision that her client was non-priority need for housing, following a homelessness application to the City of Westminster.

Details of the homelessness application

Ms Alothiya, under the supervision of Ms Martha Mpangile, represented a client who had been living with her mother in a one-bedroom flat since June 2019. The flat was overcrowded, and when it was no longer possible for the client to remain, she made a homelessness application to her local Housing Solutions Service.

Although the service acknowledged that the client was homeless, they decided that she did not have a priority need for housing. This meant that they had no duty to find her a home.

Criteria for priority need

To have a priority need for housing, you must fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • You or a member of your household are pregnant.
  • You or someone in your household have a dependent child.
  • You are 16 or 17 years old.
  • You are 18 to 21 years of age and you are leaving social services care.
  • You are homeless because of fire, flood, or a similar disaster.
  • You are elderly and this has made you vulnerable.
  • You have a mental illness which makes you vulnerable.
  • You have a physical disability which makes you vulnerable.
  • When you were a child, you were placed in the care of a local authority, a health authority, foster parents, a children’s home, or a care home and this has made you vulnerable.
  • You have been in this country’s armed forces and this has made you vulnerable.
  • You have been in prison or remanded in custody and this has made you vulnerable.
  • You have left your home because of violence or threats of violence and this has made you vulnerable.
  • You are vulnerable for another special reason that puts you at a greater risk of harm than most people.

The Housing Solutions Service judged that Alothiya’s client did not fall under any of these categories, even though she suffers from depression, psychosis and unstable personality disorder. She also has a history of offending and drug dependency.

Details of the s.202 review

The client reached out to Oliver Fisher for help to challenge the decision. Nilaufar Alothiya put together initial s.202 review representations under the Housing Act 1996. Alothiya outlined each of her client’s conditions and the ways in which they would render her significantly more vulnerable than an ordinary person, should the client be left without accommodation.

Alothiya also stressed that the council should view her client’s conditions cumulatively to understand how her mental and physical heath conditions would be exacerbated by homelessness.

Excellent result for homelessness applicant

In light of the s.202 review, the City of Westminster has overturned its initial decision. The Housing Solutions Service have agreed that the client does have a priority need for housing. They will now determine whether the client is unintentionally homeless, and whether she has a connection to the area.

“It is absurd that our client, who has significant physical and mental health conditions and a history of offending and drug dependency, was considered non-priority need” says Nilaufar Alothiya.

“This was a major oversight by the council. Our client was very pleased we managed to get her decision successfully overturned. A positive outcome is always great news!”

If you would like to find out more about how Oliver Fisher could help you to overturn a negative homelessness decision, click here. If you would like to find out more about homelessness applications, click here.

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