Court Orders Local Authority to Provide Accommodation in Unlawful Housing Decision, Emphasizing Duty to Enquire and PSED Compliance

Citation: [2023] EWHC 2913 (Admin)
Judgment on


In the judicial review of Comte Leaf Saint Sepulchre v The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea [2023] EWHC 2913 (Admin), the court scrutinized the decision of a local authority regarding the provision of interim housing accommodation under the Housing Act 1996. The case touches upon the principles of enquiry duties by local authorities, discretionary powers in housing provision, and the consideration of a claimant’s disabilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

Key Facts

Mr. Saint Sepulchre, afflicted by serious physical and mental health issues, applied for judicial review post the denial of accommodation pending the outcome of his statutory review request of an earlier decision under the Housing Act 1996. Initially deemed not homeless under section 175 of the Act, Mr. Saint Sepulchre argued unfairness in the handling of his application for temporary housing, deficient inquiries, and a lack of consideration for his health conditions.

The key legal principles arising from this case include:

  1. Duty to Enquire: Under Section 184 of the Housing Act 1996, local authorities are mandated to conduct inquiries to satisfy themselves about the duty owed to an applicant regarding homelessness assistant. The court deemed the inquiries conducted by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea as deficient, notably with a failure to engage Mr. Saint Sepulchre’s legal representatives, despite the knowledge of his vulnerabilities and complex health issues.

  2. Provision of Interim Accommodation: The discretion to provide temporary accommodation pending the outcome of a review of a homelessness application is outlined in Section 188(3) of the Housing Act 1996. The court reminded that while discretion is broad, it typically only favors the applicant under exceptional circumstances. The decision-making process must not omit material considerations or display irrationality.

  3. Mohammed Guidelines: From R v Camden LBC ex parte Mohammed (1998), the court must consider, inter alia, the merits of the original decision, any new material information, and the impact of a negative decision on the applicant’s circumstances. These guidelines play a pivotal role in decision-making for interim housing provision.

  4. Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED): Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 compels public authorities to consider the needs of people with disabilities. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea was found to have inadequately considered the claimant’s disabilities and, consequently, not to have properly applied PSED.

  5. Fairness in Administrative Decision Making: The court invoked the principle that authorities must handle applications in a fair and caring manner, referencing South Bucks District Council v Porter (No.2) [2004] regarding the scope of reasoning required in decisions.


The High Court concluded that the decisions of the local authority (the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea) were unlawful, primarily due to lacking inquiries, insufficient considered review of new information, and ineffective utilization of PSED. A mandatory order was given for the local authority to continue providing suitable accommodation to Mr. Saint Sepulchre under section 188(3) of the Housing Act 1996 while his review was being completed.


The case of Comte Leaf Saint Sepulchre v The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea [2023] EWHC 2913 (Admin) underscores the imperative for local authorities to undertake thorough and fair inquiries into the circumstances of individuals applying for homelessness assistance. It reaffirms the significance of PSED in ensuring accommodation decisions account for the applicant’s disabilities adequately. The case serves as a reiteration of the Mohammed principles in guiding the exercise of discretion under the Housing Act 1996, focusing on a balanced assessment of the material circumstances surrounding a claimant’s application for interim accommodation.