Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a judgment regarding Ms Imam's claim against Croydon Council regarding the suitability of her Council house. The full judgment can be found HERE.
In 2014, Ms Imam, who is a full-time wheelchair user, was provided with a three-bedroom Council house in Croydon for herself and her three children. Ms Imam’s partner went to live with the family later, in 2017. Whilst the property has a lift, it was later deemed not fully suitable because the only bathroom is located on the ground floor, which caused issues during the night.
The Council accepted the claim that the property was not completely suitable for a wheelchair user in 2015.
However, the Council has so far not been able to provide Ms Imam with a fully suitable house, because there are a large number of applicants needing wheelchair adapted properties of a similar size in Croydon. Whilst Croydon has over 14,000 Council-owned homes, very few of these are wheelchair-adapted and of the size that Ms Imam requires for her family.
Many applicants have either been waiting longer than Ms Imam, or have been assessed as having a higher priority rating, and therefore the Council could not simply buy a property to provide to Ms Imam without first doing the same for all those above her on the list (which would be impossible for financial reasons). Ms Imam submitted that Croydon should have diverted other resources available to it, or borrowed more money, to buy or adapt a property suitable for her needs.
Concluding, the Supreme Court has concluded that Council resources are a factor in determining housing need and referred the case back to the High Court, who will decide whether to grant Ms Imam's claim for a Mandatory Order, which would compel Croydon Council to secure suitable accommodation for occupation by her and her household.
Jason Perry, Mayor of Croydon, said:
We all know that under Labour, who ran Croydon Council from 2014-2022, Croydon’s housing service was not good enough. We fully accept the findings of the judgment, and apologise for the impact the situation has had on Ms Imam. We are continuing to make every effort to secure alternative suitable accommodation as quickly as possible.
Like other London boroughs, Croydon faces huge demand for homes, particularly where residents have complex needs. Given the shortage of suitable housing in London, this often means a difficult balance between the needs of our residents who are homeless and our current tenants who need alternative accommodation. Whilst it will take time, I have introduced a detailed housing improvement plan which will transform the service we provide our communities. This plan will make our housing service more efficient, as well as bringing the Council's Repairs Contact Centre in-house, so that residents of Council Homes can get through to the Council more easily when they have issues that need sorting.