Convener welcomes Court decision

ANGUS housing convener Councillor Jim Millar has welcomed a judgement by the Court of Session in Edinburgh which rejected an Arbroath woman’s housing appeal.

Angus Council had deemed the woman ‘intentionally homeless’ after she was evicted by her landlord for running up rent arrears of around £1,800 on a £50 per week rent, despite being in receipt of housing benefit.

The council was then taken to the Court of Session by a housing charity in a bid to have the decision amended.

The judgement by Lord Colin Tyre found that: “In November 2007, the petitioner entered into a six-month short term assured tenancy with a private landlord for the leasing of premises at Cairnie Street, Arbroath.

“At that time she was 20 years old.

“The rent due by the petitioner was £200 per calendar month. It is common ground that the petitioner paid no rent to the landlord although she was at the material time in receipt of housing benefit.

“On 27 October 2008, no arrears of rent having been paid by the petitioner, a warrant for her ejection from Cairnie Street was granted by the Sheriff at Arbroath. She was evicted on or about 24 November 2008 and applied to Angus Council for accommodation.

“A joint assessment of her circumstances was carried out by the respondents and NHS Tayside.

“It appears from the report of the assessment that she was offered temporary accommodation, which she declined, and that a decision was made by the respondents that she was intentionally homeless.”

Lord Tyre subsequently chose to dismiss the petition.

Commenting after the case, Councillor Millar said: “On one hand I feel that this was very much the appropriate decision.

“It is important that we target housing resources to those most in need, and if someone gets evicted from their home because of their own behaviour, then I don’t think that it should fall to the council to provide them with another property, especially when there are people out there desperate for a house because of circumstances that are no fault of their own.”

“On the other hand, I find it extremely frustrating that we were taken to court by a housing charity which spent in excess of six million pounds on lawyers in 2009.

“It is perhaps ironic, that if we had the money they spent lining lawyers’ pockets, we could subsidise the construction of around 200 affordable homes, on top of the money we have had to spend defending this ridiculous action.”

Mr Millar concluded “This is an important judgement which will be noted across Scotland, as Lord Tyre pointed out that there is no duty incumbent upon a decision-maker to refer to every material consideration: it is sufficient to address the main issues in dispute.”