Coleman v Harrow LBC


The Claimant and her children lived in temporary accommodation provided by the local authority under section 193(2) HA 1996. The authority accepted that the accommodation was not suitable as it did not meet the needs the Claimant’s severely disabled daughter, but  said it was taking reasonable steps, including increasing the family’s allocations banding, in order to secure alternative accommodation. The specific needs of the family, it said, made it difficult to source suitable accommodation. In the meantime, it had offered what it considered to be reasonable temporary adaptations.

Ms Coleman’s child was non-verbal and had lifelong and complex developmental and mobility conditions. She needed specialist equipment to allow her to be transferred and to use the home safely, which the existing accommodation could not facilitate. She had therefore been without necessary adaptations for nearly a year. As a result, the Claimant had to lift the child manual and had suffered injuries as a result.
At an expedited hearing, the Court made a mandatory order. The Court considered that the time in which the family had been in unsuitable accommodation was far too long (they had lived there for nearly a year).  The witness evidence from the authority fell short of showing it had done all it reasonably could and it had other powers it could use. The property was having a deleterious effect on the family. The temporary adaptations suggested by an occupational therapist were not realistic and did not mitigate against the unsuitability.  The Court directed Harrow to secure suitable accommodation within 2 months, and pay Ms Colemans’s costs.

The case also raised issues over whether Harrow had acted in breach of the PSED or discriminated, and its failure to act consistently with its obligations under the Children Act 1980. However, the Court did not consider it necessary to deal with those in order to make the order.

Eleri & Martin were instructed by Radhika Shah, Solicitor, Harrow Law Centre.

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