Challenging a Council's housing list policy

R (TW) and R (Gullu) v London Borough of Hillingdon

Hillingdon Council’s housing rules said that a person must have lived in the area for at least ten years before they could apply for a house. The council refused two people, a refugee who had been given permission to stay in the UK and an Irish Traveller, on these grounds. We saw this as discriminatory and we intervened in their cases in the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal. 

Legal issue

Is a council's housing list policy that requires ten years' residency discriminatory on the basis of race?


There were two claimant in this case; a male refugee who had been granted leave to remain after living in the UK for three years and an Irish Traveller who had to stop travelling after becoming unwell. Neither could go on the housing waiting list because Hillingdon Council’s rules said that a person must have lived in the area for ten years before applying.

Why we were involved

We were concerned that the council’s housing rules indirectly discriminated against refugees and other groups who couldn’t possibly meet them.

What we did

Our aim in intervening was to make sure Hillingdon Council changed its rules and that in the future decisions about who is eligible for social housing are not made in a discriminatory way.

We made clear to the court the importance of preventing discrimination when it comes to allocating social housing.

What happened

The case was successful; the Court of Appeal said that the policy discriminated against Irish Travellers and non-UK nationals.

Who will benefit and how

There are around 125,000 refugees in the UK and 63,000 people who identify as Travellers. We hope that the outcome of this case will protect these two groups from discrimination when it comes to social housing rules

Date of hearing


Date of outcome