The appellant local housing authority (Lewisham) appealed against the decision that it was not reasonable for the respondent (S) to accept certain accommodation offered to her as a homeless person. S had two small children and had separated from their father (F). After the birth of the second child S had asked Lewisham to re-house her because her one-bedroom flat was too small. It had offered her accommodation in the area of New Cross. S rejected it on the basis that it was not close to her family and friends and because F frequented the New Cross area and she was afraid of him. Lewisham reviewed the decision and re-offered the property to S on the basis that she had been unable to substantiate her claim that F lived in the area. S appealed to the County Court.
The Court of Appeal held that the plain and ordinary meaning of s.193(7F) required the local housing authority to be satisfied that the accommodation was suitable and that it was reasonable for the applicant to accept it. There were two elements of which the decision-maker had to be satisfied, Tower Hamlets LBC v Begum (2005) EWCA applied. The particular needs of the applicant, for example to be protected from domestic violence and to be located near support networks, were relevant when considering suitability but that did not mean that those matters were material only to suitability. The submission that if the premises were suitable it had to follow that it was reasonable to accept them was rejected. There might be circumstances in which it was reasonable to refuse accommodation that was objectively suitable, Warsame v Hounslow LBC (2000) applied. In considering whether or not it was reasonable for an applicant to refuse an offer of accommodation that had been found by the housing authority to be suitable, the decision-maker had to have regard to all the personal characteristics of the applicant and, taking account of those subjective factors, ask whether it was objectively reasonable for the applicant to accept, Newham LBC v Khatun (2004) EWCA considered. The judge had made no error of approach and that ground of appeal failed.