Barrister Profile  

Toby Vanhegan Call: 1996
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Community Care / Court of Protection
  • Homelessness
  • Housing
  • Local Government
  • Public Access
  • Public Law
  • Real Property
"He knows the law inside out and his cross-examination is a treat to watch"
Chambers and Partners


Prior to his call to the Bar in 1996, Toby Vanhegan read Law at Oxford University, and did an LLM at King’s College London. He was an Astbury Scholar of the Middle Temple.

Toby practises in the area of public law specialising in housing and homelessness, human rights and EU law, community care, discrimination, immigration and asylum, and in particular the rights of free movement of persons within the EU. His knowledge of immigration and asylum law has meant that he has developed an expertise in cases that involve the eligibility of immigrants and asylum seekers for housing and other forms of social assistance.

Toby has experience of all kinds of possession claims, in particular those brought on the grounds of nuisance, anti-social behaviour, succession, and arrears of rent. He also deals with disrepair, injunctions, committal applications, and housing benefit matters. Much of his work concerns Equality Act and human rights issues, and using the European Convention on Human Rights to challenge the lawfulness of excluding certain types of occupiers from security of tenure, for example Crown tenants, occupiers of almshouses and tenants of fully mutual housing co-operatives.

His homelessness work covers eligibility, who is homeless, intentionality, priority need, local connection, out of area placements, suitability of accommodation, contracting out homelessness decision making, restricted cases, private rented sector offers, and issues concerning the suitability and provision of temporary accommodation, and whether a fresh homelessness application must be accepted by the local housing authority. Toby also litigates over the lawfulness of allocation schemes and their applicability in individual cases.

His community care work is wide-ranging and covers, in particular, children and vulnerable adults.

His property practice covers both residential and commercial landlord and tenant work, including lease renewals, boundary disputes, trespass, adverse possession, mortgage repossessions, easements, trusts of land, and charging orders. His asylum work covers a range of countries and he deals with all types of immigration appeals.

Toby has appeared in the Court of Justice of the European Union and represents clients in the European Court of Human Rights. He appears regularly in all sorts of courts and tribunals, including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court, especially the Administrative Court.

Areas of Practice

Public Law

Particular expertise in human rights and EU free movement law, homelessness appeals, allocations, community care, discrimination, judicial review and all types of asylum and immigration appeals, especially issues concerning the eligibility of immigrants and asylum seekers for housing and other welfare benefits.



All areas of housing law, especially homelessness, and all types of possession claims, in particular those brought on the grounds of nuisance, antisocial behaviour and arrears of rent, disrepair, succession, injunctions, committal applications and housing benefit issues. A particular emphasis on Equality Act and human rights matters, and using the European Convention on Human Rights to challenge the lawfulness of excluding certain types of occupiers from security of tenure, for  example Crown tenants, occupiers of almshouses and tenants of fully mutual housing co-operatives.

Real Property

Residential and commercial landlord and tenant work, including lease renewals, boundary disputes, actions for trespass, adverse possession claims, mortgage repossessions, easements, trusts of land, and charging orders.

Community Care / Court of Protection

A wide range of community care work but with a focus on assistance under the Children Act 1989 and the Care Act 2014, including disputes as to which authority is responsible.

Local Government

The powers and duties of local authorities found in statute, secondary legislation and their Constitutions. A particular emphasis on the ability to contract out functions pursuant to the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, especially homelessness and housing management functions, and the requirements set out in procurement law both domestically in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and in EU law under the Public Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC and in authorities’ own Contract Procedure Rules. This work also covers the formal requirements in the Constitution to authorise a contracting out, and whether ultra vires acts of the authority can be cured by the application of the doctrine of ratification.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Possession claims brought on the basis of antisocial behaviour, injunctions and committal proceedings, and issues of compliance by landlords with their applicable antisocial behaviour policy.

Public Access


Recommended for “Social Housing” in Chambers & Partners, which says that he “leads on a series of high-profile housing matters, and is noted for his human rights, public law and EU law expertise. He is especially highlighted for his advice on allocation, eligibility and homelessness… [He is] a greatly respected, serious opponent… [who] turns cases around with clear and effective arguments.”

Recommended as a leading junior in Social Housing with “a special interest in the free movement of persons in the EU” by The Legal 500.

Recommended as a leading junior in Immigration and Nationality Law by The Legal 500 as specialising “in homelessness cases in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.”

Highly recommended for Immigration Law in Legal Experts.

Noteworthy Cases

Panayiotou v Waltham Forest LBC [2017] EWCA Civ 1624; [2017] HLR 48

Bucknall v Dacorum BC [2017] EWHC 2094 (QB); [2017] HLR 40

Trindade v Hackney LBC [2017] EWCA Civ 942; [2017] HLR 37

Hertfordshire CC v Davies [2017] EWHC 1488 (QB); [2017] 1 WLR 4395; [2017] HLR 33

Watts v Stewart [2016] EWCA Civ 1247; [2017] 2 WLR 1107; [2017] HLR 8

Holley v Hillingdon LBC [2016] EWCA Civ 1052; [2017] PTSR 127; [2017] HLR 3

Firoozmand v Lambeth LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 952; [2016] PTSR 65; [2015] HLR 45

Mohamoud v Kensington & Chelsea RLBC [2015] EWCA Civ 780; [2016] PTSR 289; [2015] HLR 38 – whether s.17 Children Act 1989 and s.11 Children Act 2004 apply in possession claims, such that the local housing authority must take account of the best interests of children when deciding whether to repossess accommodation.

Southward Housing Co-operative Ltd v Walker [2015] EWHC 1615 (Ch); [2016] Ch 443 – whether the exclusion from security of housing co-operative tenants is a breach of art.14 of the Convention.

Sanneh v SSWP [2015] EWCA Civ 49; [2016] QB 455; [2015] HLR 27 – whether the exclusion of Zambrano carers from homelessness assistance and welfare benefits is contrary to EU law.

Nicholas v SSD [2015] EWCA Civ 53; [2015] 1 WLR 2116; [2015] HLR 25 – whether the Crown exemption from the Housing Acts 1985 and 1988 is compatible with art.14 of the Convention.

Hussain v Waltham Forest LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 14; [2015] AC 1259; [2015] HLR 16 – whether the definition of violence under Part VII Housing Act 1996 should include threats of violence.

Sims v Dacorum BC [2014] UKSC 63; [2015] AC 1336; [2015] HLR 7 – the rule that one joint tenant can unilaterally terminate a tenancy by the service of a notice to quit is not a breach of art.8 of the Convention.

R (N) v Lewisham LBC [2014] UKSC 62; [2014] 3 WLR 1548 – where it was held that a court order was not necessary to evict an occupant from homelessness temporary accommodation.

Preston v Area Estates Ltd [2014] EWHC 1206 (Admin) – whether the rent assessment panel must take into account the current state of a property and the value of the tenant’s improvements when assessing the level of rent payable by the tenant.

Tachie v Welwyn Hatfield BC [2013] EWHC 3972 (QB); [2014] PTSR 662

Huzrat v Hounslow LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1865; [2014] HLR 17 – where it was held that the duty in s.11 Children Act 2004 to take account of the best interests of children applies to local housing authorities making homelessness decisions but makes no difference to those decisions.

Ealing LBC v Purewal [2013] EWCA Civ 1579; [2014] HLR 5 – which concerned the court’s power to vary, rather than quash, a homelessness review decision.

Secretary of State for Transport v Blake [2013] EWHC 2945 (Ch)

R (N) v Lewisham LBC [2013] EWCA Civ 804; [2014] 2 WLR 719; [2013] HLR 46

Dawkins v Central Bedfordshire Council [2013] EWHC 4757 (QB) – successful appeal against a refusal to extend time for a homelessness appeal.

Holt v Reading BC [2013] EWCA Civ 641; [2014] PTSR 444; [2013] HLR 40 – in a ground 16 case under the Housing Act 1985 it was held unnecessary to identify specific alternative suitable accommodation at the time of trial, so long as it was available at the time the possession order took effect.

Sims v Dacorum BC [2013] EWCA Civ 12; [2013] CP Rep 19; [2013] HLR 14

Hounslow LBC v Cumar [2012] EWCA Civ 1426; [2013] HLR 17 – about the power to order the substitution of a party under CPR 19.

Dragic v Wandsworth LBC [2012] EWHC 1241 (Admin) – which decided when time starts to run for the purposes of a homelessness appeal.

Bubb v Wandsworth LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 1285; [2012] PTSR 1011; [2012] HLR 13 – the county court hearing a homelessness appeal has no jurisdiction to make findings of fact.

Dharmaraj v Hounslow LBC [2011] EWCA Civ 312; [2011] PTSR 1523; [2011] HLR 18 – concerning the information to be provided to homelessness applicants about the statutory right of appeal.

R (Coombes) v SSCLG [2010] EWHC 666 (Admin); [2010] L&TR 29 – whether the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Teixeira v Lambeth LBC (C-480/08) [2010] PTSR 1913; [2010] HLR 32 – the right to reside of parents with children in school in the EU.

Bracknell Forest BC v Green [2009] EWCA Civ 238; [2009] CP Rep 31; [2009] HLR 38 – ground 16 claim concerning the relevance of the suitability of alternative accommodation to reasonableness.

Teixeira v Lambeth LBC [2008] EWCA Civ 1088; [2009] HLR 9 – homelessness appeal concerning the eligibility of a parent with children in school in the UK.

R(M) v Watford BC [2009] EWHC 2712 (Admin) – suitability of temporary accommodation granted to a homelessness applicant.

Brent LBC v Hodson [2009] EWHC 566 (QB) – ground 16 possession claim concerning the application of the reasonableness test.

Wandsworth LBC v Randall [2007] EWCA Civ 1126; [2008] 1 WLR 359; [2008] HLR 24 – the test to be applied when determining suitable alternative accommodation in cases of succession to a secure tenancy.

Nutting v Southern Housing Group Ltd [2004] EWHC 2982 (Ch); [2005] HLR 25 – succession to a tenancy by a same sex partner.

(2003) UKIAT 00176 K – test to be applied in deciding human rights issues in the immigration context.

Legal Publications


Homelessness and Allocations (8th and 9th editions), Legal Action Group (with Andrew Arden QC and Emily Orme).

Housing Volume of Atkins’ Court Forms (Butterworths).


Parliament gets a vote on Brexit“, Solicitors’ Journal 2017, 161(5), 18 (co-author).

Brexit challenge in the Supreme Court“, Solicitors’ Journal 2016, 160(47), 19 (co-author).

Case Study – Proportionality and second succession claims to property (Holley v London Borough of Hillingdon)“, LexisNexis, 14 November 2016 (co-author).

No Brexit without Parliament”, Solicitors’ Journal 2016, 160(42), 19 (co-author).

Finger on the trigger”, Solicitors’ Journal 2016, 160(40), 19 (co-author).

Five things you really should know about Brexit”, Solicitors’ Journal 2016, 160(31) (co-author).

“The Pryce of Eligibility” Legal Action, February 2013.

“Eligibility of Parents from Abroad with Children in School in the UK” – Journal of Housing Law 2010, 13(1).

“The Eligibility of Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals for Social Housing” – Journal of Housing Law 2007, 10(3).

“Housing rights of immigrants and asylum seekers” – Legal Action, October 2005.


Toby has lectured at the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol, City University, at the HLPA Annual Conference and at a HLPA advanced training seminar for the Chartered Institute of Housing, at the Legal Action Housing Conference, and at Arden Chambers Conference and Seminars.


Administrative Law Bar Association

Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association

Housing and Immigration Group


Toby speaks fluent Italian, competent Portuguese, and some French. To contact him regarding the provision of legal advice, representation, and assistance in these languages visit