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Neutral Citation Number: 2011 UKUT 136 AAC
Reported Number:
File Number: CH 322 2010
Appellant: Oxford CC v Basey [2012] EWCA Civ 115
Respondent: Oxford City Council and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Judge/Commissioner: Judge H. Levenson
Date Of Decision: 15/02/2012
Date Added: 19/04/2011
Main Category: Housing and council tax benefits
Main Subcategory: payments that are eligible for HB
Secondary Category:
Secondary Subcategory:
Notes: CA decision reported as [2012] AACR 38. Housing benefit – eligible rent – service charges in sheltered accommodation The claimant was a man with severe learning disabilities and shared a housing association property with four other tenants all of whom had similar difficulties. The residents received 24-hour care from staff provided by the housing association. Each tenant had their own bedroom and they shared communal rooms, including a kitchen, bathroom, and two sitting rooms. The resident’s rent included a charge of some £20 weekly for the cost of heating and cleaning the communal rooms. The council decided that these costs could not be met by housing benefit as they were ineligible service charges as defined in Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (the Regulations). On the claimant’s appeal, the question before the First-tier Tribunal was whether the claimant resided in sheltered accommodation for the purpose of the Regulations. If he did, he was entitled to have his share of the costs of heating and cleaning the communal rooms included in his eligible rent when calculating his housing benefit entitlement. The First-tier Tribunal (F-tT) concluded that the accommodation was not sheltered. On the claimant’s further appeal, the Upper Tribunal judge concluded that the F-tT had applied an unduly restrictive definition of sheltered accommodation and upheld the claimant’s appeal. The council appealed against this decision. Held, dismissing the appeal, that: 1. the Upper Tribunal’s conclusion that the type of accommodation occupied by the respondent was sheltered accommodation for the purpose of the Regulations was correct. Parliament did not choose to define sheltered accommodation and the Court should not impose a prescriptive definition upon an inherently flexible concept which could take many different forms, and which now included very sheltered or extra care sheltered accommodation (paragraph 33); 2. at one end of the spectrum, sheltered accommodation was distinguishable from “ordinary” accommodation because it incorporated particular features which are not normally found in “ordinary” accommodation and were designed to meet the needs of occupiers who were vulnerable in some way due to age or disability. The presence or absence of a particular feature, including self-contained accommodation, a warden or an emergency alarm system, was not determinative (paragraph 34); 3. at the other end of the spectrum, a care home was not sheltered accommodation. There would usually be more emphasis on care than accommodation in a care home and residents in care homes would usually occupy their rooms under licence whereas those having exclusive possession of their own living space within sheltered accommodation would be in occupation pursuant to a tenancy and so liable to pay the rent and service charges which were eligible for housing benefit purposes (paragraph 35).
Decision(s) to Download: CH 0322 2010-00.doc CH 0322 2010-00.doc  
[2012] AACR 38bv.doc [2012] AACR 38bv.doc