In a test-case ruling the Appeal Court has held that councils faced with this situation are entitled to crack-down. They can take steps to ease the pressure on their pool of accommodation for the homeless by evicting such people. The judges ruled that such a stance does not infringe human rights provisions.
They ruled that councils supplying temporary accommodation under section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 are entitled to impose a condition that the homeless person should sleep each night on the premises unless he or she can provide a reasonable explanation for being absent.
The judges rejected a challenge by Ruben Orejudos to a Barnet CC ruling last October backing Kensington and Chelsea LBC in its claim that that it had discharged its duty to secure accommodation for Orejudos after he was reported as being absent overnight.
The council withdrew the accommodation on the basis that Orejudos had made himself intentionally homeless by his overnight absence on ten occasions. It accepted his explanation for only three of the nights he was absent.
Martin Russell, counsel for Orejudos, argued in court that the condition infringed Orejudos' rights to private life and home under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He claimed the local authority had failed to justify the restrictions.
However, Wayne Beglan, counsel for the authority, argued that the stance taken by the council was to be regarded as 'necessary and proportionate' under the provisions of Ar ticle 8.2.
He said the condition was necessary 'in the interests of the economic well-being of the country and the protection of the rights and freedoms of other applicants for housing assistance and contributors to the funds used to provide temporary accommodation'.
Dismissing Orejudos' appeal Lady Justice Arden said there were circumstances where the public sphere must intrude on an individual's rights under Article 8 from a public good point of view.
The conditions that the appellant had to sleep overnight were qualified by a provision that the council would agree to such absence provided a satisfactory explanation could be given.
She said it was obvious that costs could be saved on accommodation by the imposition of such provisions.
STRAND NEWS SERVICE