Street Legal succeeds in repeat homeless applications case at Court of Session
Street Legal has been successful in a Court of Session case that challenged Edinburgh Council’s refusal to accept a homeless application from a family.
A partnership between Clan Childlaw and Shelter Scotland, Street Legal provides free legal help with housing and homelessness for children and young people and families with children in Edinburgh.
The case involved a family with six children which had applied as homeless in 2015 but had then not taken permanent accommodation the council offered them.
In 2020, the family was evicted from temporary accommodation by the council. They had nowhere else to go and applied to the council again for assistance under the homelessness laws. The council refused to consider the application, saying the family’s situation had not changed, and they had already help from the council.
The family contacted Street Legal and got a lawyer from Shelter. Their lawyers went to court to challenge the council’s decision. The court decided that the council’s approach was wrong and that they had not met their legal duty to the family. Judges decided that the council has a duty to accept a new application. The court stated that a core aim of the homelessness laws in Scotland is to provide accommodation to those who are homeless. The court said that personal circumstances must be considered when deciding not to accept a second application.
The decision states that local authorities cannot turn away someone who needs help with homelessness just because they have previously had help. The local authority must consider the personal circumstances of homelessness applicants and check whether there has been a change which means that a new application should be accepted.
Trudy Gill, solicitor at Shelter Scotland, said: “This decision is not only a welcome outcome for our client but is equally important for homeless law in Scotland as a whole.
“Not only does the decision give some much needed clarity to the approach to be taken when a new or repeat homeless application is made in Scotland, it is a further step forward in protecting the rights of homeless people.
“Homelessness can be traumatic for those who need to rely on homeless assistance and more often than not, is required by some of the most vulnerable people of our society. We should not lose sight of the importance of protecting those rights and how important they are to homeless people at critical times in their lives.”