- Housing allocations—qualification and reasonable preference revisited (R(Montero) v London Borough of Lewisham (2021))
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Local Government analysis: This was a judicial review in which the question was again posed of how to balance the obligations owed to those in reasonable preference categories with the power of a local authority to set criteria to disqualify applicants from a housing register. LB Lewisham’s scheme contained a past residence rule which required applicants to have lived in the borough for five years or more. This rule came up against the requirement under section 166A(3) of the Housing Act 1996 (HA 1996) to operate a scheme which provides for reasonable preference to certain persons in housing need, in this case those living in overcrowded conditions. The court was asked whether the qualification criteria overrode reasonable preference. It was held here that the qualification criteria were lawful and so the claimant had been legitimately excluded from the housing scheme despite being within a statutory reasonable preference group. This develops a line of caselaw which has emerged following Localism Act 2011 (LA 2011) in which the statutory obligations to facilitate reasonable preference are pitted against the powers of a local housing authority to frame allocation schemes with tailored qualification criteria. Written by Kevin Long, solicitor at Hackney Community Law Centre.
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