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Cases when an applicant may be found intentionally homeless because s/he has acquiesced in the deliberate act or omission of another person.


The Housing Act 1996 refers to the homeless applicant as an individual so the deliberate act or omission must be that of the applicant and not that of the other person or persons who might reasonably be expected to reside with her/him.[1]

For example, the partner of an intentionally homeless applicant could apply and be accepted as 'not intentionally homeless' if s/he did not 'acquiesce' in the act or omission.[2] As each adult member of the household can apply in her/his own right it may therefore be possible to avoid a finding of intentional homelessness (see Making a homelessness application for details on joint and separate applications).[3]

Where there is no evidence to the contrary, the court has held that an authority is entitled to assume that a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant acquiesced in her/his partner's decision.[4] The court has found that in a number of situations a partner has acquiesced.[5] The test appears to be not only whether the person knew of the action or omission, but also whether s/he was in a position to affect the outcome and whether s/he took the necessary steps to do so. For example, being aware of rent arrears does not necessarily mean acquiescence if the partner is unable to clear the arrears.[6] Local authorities should also consider whether a person had only acquiesced in behaviour because they were in fear of actual or probable violence.[7]

The court has also held that the wife of an alcoholic who had made it clear that she had tried to deter her husband from the drinking which ultimately led to eviction, should have been considered separately.[8] However, in another case where a wife allowed her husband to decide where they should live, she was regarded as having joined in the decision to move, even though there was no evidence that she had made an independent decision to leave or acquiesced in her husband's decision.[9]

Applications made before 3 April 2018

The current Homelessness Code of Guidance was introduced on 3 April 2018 and the references on this page are to this Code. For applications made before this date, the recommendations of the 2006 Code of Guidance should apply.

[1] R v Penwith DC ex parte Trevena (1984) 17 HLR 526, QBD; R v Thanet DC ex parte Groves [1988], QBD; para 9.9 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[2] R v West Dorset DC ex parte Phillips (1984) 17 HLR 336, QBD; R v Mole Valley DC ex parte Burton (1988) 20 HLR 479, QBD; paras 9.10 and 9.11 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[3] R v North Devon ex parte Lewis [1981] 1 WLR 328, QBD; R v Eastleigh BC ex parte Beattie (1984) 17 HLR 168, QBD.

[4] R v North Devon ex parte Lewis [1981] 1 WLR 328, QBD.

[5] R v Swansea CC ex parte John (1982) 9 HLR 56, QBD; R v Ealing LBC ex parte Salmons [1990], QBD.

[6] R v East Northamptonshire DC ex parte Spruce (1988) 20 HLR 508, QBD.

[7] para 9.11 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

[8] R v West Dorset ex parte Phillips (1985) 17 HLR 336, QBD.

[9] R v Tower Hamlets ex parte Khatun (1993) 27 HLR 344, CA.

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