OCCASIONALLY, the report of a case provides a disturbing depiction of a particular aspect of contemporary life, a narrative which is all the more powerful because of the scrupulously neutral language which is used to describe the relevant details. Uratemp
Ltd. v. Collins  UKHL 43, 3 W.L.R. 806 is one such case. It deals with legal issues surrounding the bleak world of residential private hotels and such other spartan accommodation as is available in city centres for the single and rootless. In Uratemp, the House of Lords adopted a purposive construction of the Housing Act 1988 in a well-intentioned attempt to protect those on the precarious bottom rungs of the housing ladder. The result of the case will no doubt be beneficial in the short-term to those individuals clinging on to their meagre accommodation, but the long-term effects of the judgment are, as ever, more uncertain.