Bucknall v Dacorum Borough Council  

[2017] EWHC 2094 (QB), 10 August 2017

Popplewell J

The High Court has held that it is a question of fact whether accommodation occupied after the acceptance of a full housing duty under s.193(2), Housing Act 1996, but which was initially provided to the applicant under s.188, is a “dwelling” for the purposes of ss.3 and 5, Protection from Eviction Act 1977. In the present case, the appellant occupied the property as a dwelling and the notice to quit served on her was invalid because it did not contain the information prescribed by the Notices to Quit etc. (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1988 (SI 1988/2201).

Toby Vanhegan and Riccardo Calzavara of Arden Chambers, instructed by ARKrights Solicitors, appeared for the appellant.

The appellant applied to the authority under Pt 7, Housing Act 1996. Pending inquiries into her application, she occupied 29 Ninian Road under the terms of a non-secure licence. On 18 September 2014, the authority decided that they owed her the full housing duty under s.193(2). They explained that the appellant would be offered suitable private sector accommodation but, in the meantime, she should continue to pay the charges and abide by the conditions of her agreement to occupy the “temporary accommodation you will be provided with”.

On 27 October 2014, the authority offered the appellant accommodation at 20 Aragon Close which she viewed on 2 February 2015 and refused the following day, requesting a review of its suitability. On 11 February 2015, the authority decided that 20 Aragon Close was suitable for her. That decision was not appealed.

On 9 February 2015, the authority served the appellant with a notice to quit the property on 9 March 2015. The notice did not contain the information prescribed by s.5, Protection from Eviction Act 1977, and the Notices to Quit etc. (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1988 (SI 1988/2201). The authority brought possession proceedings and the county court granted a possession order.

On appeal to the High Court, it was held that if an applicant accepts an offer to stay in accommodation following notification of the acceptance of the full housing duty, the accommodation is provided pursuant to that duty, even though it is not settled, secure, or permanent. It was further held that the property was occupied as a dwelling because of the combination of the terms of the s.184 letter and the appellant’s continued occupation of the property. Accordingly, s.5, 1977 Act, applied to the appellant’s licence and, since the notice did not contain the prescribed information, it was not effective to terminate it. The appeal was allowed.