The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in a case where a woman rejected a council's final offer of accommodation on grounds of psychological distress.
The case of Poshteh v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea concerned a woman who had been engaged in dissident activity in Iran. She was tortured during two periods of imprisonment and as a result suffered depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ms Poshteh was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 2009 and placed in temporary accommodation by the council.
In November 2012 she was made a final offer of accommodation. However, when she saw the property, she suffered a panic attack because the design of the window in the living room reminded her of the prison cell where she had been detained. She refused the offer of the property.
A reviewing officer said he could not accept as objectively reasonable Ms Poshteh’s assertion that the size or design of the window in the living room was reminiscent of a prison cell or that the windows or layout of the living room was such that it recreated the conditions of confinement or incarceration that was likely to have a significant impact on her mental health.
Ms Poshteh's appeals to the County Court and then to the Court of Appeal were unsuccessful.
The Supreme Court is understood to have ordered that permission to appeal be granted in the case on two grounds:
- Whether Ali v Birmingham City Council should be departed from in the light of Ali v UK and if so, to what extent; and
- Whether the reviewing officer should have asked himself whether there was a real risk that the appellant’s mental health would be damaged by moving into the accommodation offered, whether or not her reaction to it was irrational, and if so, whether he did in fact apply the right test.