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NINE IN TWO-ROOM FLAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE HOMELESS SAYS JUDGE

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court ref no: CO/2804/95 ...
court ref no: CO/2804/95

A Bradford couple who are expecting a seventh child but who live crammed into a two-bedroom flat, have failed in a high court bid to be re-housed.

Sajid Hussain and his wife Zahida said that although they have a roof over their head, the conditions in which they live are so appalling that they are effectively 'homeless'.

But Judge Roger Toulson QC, in court yesterday, upheld Bradford City Council's view that they are not homeless within the meaning of the 1985 Housing Act, and not entitled to priority re-housing.

'Their position is very unfortunate, but I am concerned only with the lawfulness of the council's determination of their homelessness application,' he said.

The ruling leaves the family little choice but to stay on in their two-bedroom flat at, but they were thrown a lifeline when Judge Toulson granted them leave to appeal against his decision.

The court heard that in mid-November 1994, the family rented a house at Hartington Terrace while its owner was away in Pakistan.

But when their landlord and his own large family returned to the UK in July last year and wanted their house back, the Hussains applied to the council for re-housing.

But the council refused to accept them as homeless or threatened with homelessness, saying that they had a right to stay on at Hartington Terrace until their landlord served them with notice to quit.

The Hussains nevertheless left their rented home and ended up in their current two-bedroom flat at Derby Street, said Judge Toulson.

The couple claimed it would not have been reasonable to carry on living at Hartington Terrace, given their promise to its owner that they would vacate the premises on his return from Pakistan.

Judge Toulson remarked: 'I am very conscious that if they had remained at Hartington Terrace as the council advised them, relations between them and their landlord would in all probability have been difficult'.

But the 'decisive' factor in the council's decision was the fact that they had not been legally obliged to move out of Hartington Terrace.

'The council was also acutely aware of the housing conditions in which other families who needed four-bedroom accommodation were having to live.

'In that unsatisfactory situation, the fact remained that the family had accommodation in which they were for the time being entitled to stay, and on that ground the council concluded that they were not homeless or threatened with homelessness.'

The judge said he was 'not satisfied' that the council's decision was unlawful.

He dismissed the family's judicial review challenge, but granted them leave to take their case to the court of appeal.

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