Regina v Eastleigh Borough Council, Ex parte Betts; In re Betts: HL 27 Jul 1983

Mr Betts applied to Eastleigh for accommodation under the 1977 Act. They said that he had no local connection and referred his application to Blaby where the applicant and his family had formerly been living. Blaby accepted the referral and offered accommodation, but he refused it and made a further application to Eastleigh. In relation to that application Eastleigh took the view that, in referring the earlier application under section 5 of the 1977 Act, they had discharged their duty to the applicant. The applicant sought judicial review of that decision on the grounds that Eastleigh (in that context, the notifying authority) had been wrong to decide that the applicant had no local connection with their own district. The basis for that decision was that the applicant’s connection with Eastleigh did not fall within the working definition of ‘normal residence’ set out in the Agreement on Procedures for Referrals of the Homeless.
Held: The authority’s appeal succeeded. The question was whether the respondents had a ‘local connection’ with the appellants’ area within section 18(1)(a) for the purposes of section 5(1).
Held: ‘local connection’ was not a defined expression, the effect of which was to allow a reader to construe it by substituting ‘is or was normally resident in,’ or ‘is employed in,’ or ‘has family associations with’ for the words ‘has a local connection with’. The section was intended to specify those factors alone upon which a local connection could be founded. The fundamental question was the existence of a local connection: ‘In construing section 5 it is only to be expected that the emphasis falls on ‘local connection’, and not on past or present residence or current employment, etc. The Act is one which enables a homeless person in certain circumstances to jump over the heads of all other persons on a housing authority’s waiting list, to jump the queue. One would not expect any just legislation to permit this to be done unless the applicant has in a real sense a local connection with the area in question. I accept that ‘residence’ may be changed in a day, and that in appropriate circumstances a singe day’s residence may be enough to enable a person to say that he was normally resident in the area in which he arrived only yesterday. But ‘local connection’ means far more than that. It must be built up and established; by a period of residence; or by a period of employment; or by family associations which have endured in the area; or by other special circumstances which spell out a local connection in real terms.’
Lord Brightman spoke of the national ‘Agreement on Procedures for Referrals of the Homeless’: ‘it is obvious that time consuming and expensive disputes might arise between housing authorities as to the existence of a ‘local connection’. Such disputes are not in the interest either of housing authorities or of homeless persons. The purposes of the Act demand speedy solutions to questions of doubt. To avoid such disputes, and to settle them quickly and cheaply if they arise, certain steps have been taken on behalf of housing authorities. First, in order to facilitate agreements between notifying authorities and notified authorities as required by section 5(7) a national ‘Agreement on Procedures for Referrals of the Homeless’ was negotiated between the Association of District Councils, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the London Boroughs Association at the time when the Bill was being considered by Parliament. This agreement has been adhered to by the majority of housing authorities. Secondly, by the Housing (Homeless Persons) (Appropriate Arrangements) Order 1978 (SI 1978 No 69), the Secretary of State for the Environment, in exercise of his powers under section 5(8) has established the ‘Appropriate Arrangements’ set out in the schedule to the order for the purpose of settling unresolved disputes between housing authorities. These arrangements are in a form which was agreed by the three associations who negotiated the Agreement on Procedures. They provide for any disputed question under section 5 to be determined speedily either by a person agreed upon by the authorities concerned or by a person chosen from a panel. These arrangements came into operation on January 21, 1978, that is to say a few weeks after the Act of 1977 came into force. There is evidence that he Agreement on Procedures has worked well, and that as a result there have only been about 50 references under the order since the Act came into force.
The Agreement on Procedures does not purport to impose a legally binding code on housing authorities who adhere to it. It is merely a policy document.’
Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Lord Wilberforce, Lord Edmund-Davies, Lord Roskill, Lord Brightman
[1983] 2 AC 613, [1983] UKHL 9, [1983] 3 WLR 397, [1984] Fam Law 25, [1983] 2 All ER 111
Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 5(1) 18(1)(a)
England and Wales
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Appeal fromRegina v Eastleigh Borough Council, Ex parte Betts; In re Betts CA 1983
Mr Betts appealed a refusal of accomodation by Eastliegh who had said he had no local connection, but had lived in Blaby.
Held: Lord Justice Stephenson the chief housing officer ‘did fetter the council’s decision by a rigid application of the . .

Cited by:
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When a local authority came to make the decision about the extent of the local connection of the homelessness applicant with the area, the assessment was to be made as regards the situation at the date of that decision. Where there was a review, the . .
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The claimant applied to be housed as a homeless person. The authority sought to refer him to a different authority under s198. As an asylum seeker, he had been given assistance both in Portsmouth and Southampton before coming to Ipswich. He said . .
CitedMohamed v Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council HL 1-Nov-2001
Mrs M came to England in 1994 living first in Ealing and then Hammersmith. Mr M came later and lived elsewhere in Hammersmith. Hammersmith gave them jointly temporary accommodation, first in a hotel and then in a flat. They then applied under . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 12 January 2021; Ref: scu.193592