Case law: R(H) 2/07

Case Name R(H) 2/07
Case law date 19/06/2006
Commissioner Commissioner Turnbull
Organisations Involved 1. Sheffield City Council
  2. Rivendell Lake Housing Association – The housing provider.
  3. Citizenship First – Care provider.
  4. Local Authority Social Services – Commissioned and funded the care package.

1. Appeal by 3 tenants against Tribunal decisions that their accommodation was not “exempt accommodation” for housing benefit purposes.

2. The appellants were young men with learning difficulties, living together in a house with overnight supervision requiring support to live independently. 

3. Rivendell Housing Association was the landlord. Care and support was provided by Citizenship First (CF) and paid for by the council and others. 

4. Rivendell, the landlord, was not contractually or statutorily obliged to provide the claimants with support services. The Tribunal found, (and the contrary was not contended on behalf of the appellants before the Tribunal) that Rivendell had not itself (i.e. through its officers, employees or agents) provided any care, support or supervision to the appellants. The care and support were provided by Citizenship First, which was commissioned by the local authority.

5. A joint venture arrangement between a landlord and a care provider does not qualify as “exemption accommodation”. The support provided under such a model is not being rendered “on behalf of” the landlord as required by the statutory definition.

“In the present case there is of course a contractual link between CF and Rivendell, in that they are parties to the Agreement. However, the relationship was certainly not that of agency or, in my judgment, anything akin to it. It may well be that, in the context of the definition of “exempt accommodation” …, it is not necessary that the care provider should be acting strictly as agent for the landlord, in the sense that the actions of the care provider can be regarded as the actions of the landlord. But, for the reasons which I have given, it is in my judgment at least necessary that the landlord should have engaged the care provider to provide the care for him. As I have said above, that was not the nature of the relationship between Rivendell and CF under the tripartite agreement. They were in the nature of joint venture partners, with CF having been engaged and being remunerated by others, and with Rivendell having no contractual or other obligation to provide care which it needed to engage CF to carry out on its behalf.” (para 52)