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Housing

“The leading housing law chambers for tenants – the individuals here are always pushing the boundaries” – Chambers Bar Guide

The Work We Do

Garden Court Chambers has one of the largest specialist housing law teams in the country (currently 26 barristers) and has a well-earned reputation for excellence in this area. We cover all aspects of housing law including possession claims, unlawful eviction, homelessness, allocation of social housing, disrepair and housing benefit.

Our practitioners also have specialist expertise in many of the ‘niche’ areas within housing law including Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights, disability issues, welfare benefits, anti-social behaviour, community care, unfair terms in tenancy agreements, general planning matters, grants, licensing of houses in multiple occupation, housing standards, and the housing health and safety rating system. We are particularly committed to representing tenants, other occupiers and homeless people.

Cross-Over Expertise

Housing law cases can and often do also raise aspects of immigration, family law, welfare benefits, disability, and criminal law. We pride ourselves on our cross-over expertise and as part of a multi-disciplinary set are extremely well placed to advise on these other issues related to housing. The team advises on the full range of accommodation and support issues concerning migrant welfare and asylum support. We are able to offer a complete service in social services, homelessness and connected Children Act matters. Thanks to our fluid and cross-disciplinary approach, we can draw on the wisdom and experience of our colleagues in Chambers who specialise in these areas.

All Levels of Experience and Expertise

We are fortunate to have a wide breadth of expertise on the team – from experienced senior practitioners and QCs to tenacious and committed juniors. The Housing Team provides a full service, covering cases from the lowest to the highest courts, as well as undertaking advisory work.

What others say

Garden Court Chambers is the leading practice for exclusively tenant-side work. Its members are committed to publicly funded clients and often represent the most vulnerable in society. It has been instrumental in developing law at the highest appellate level in this area and its members make frequent appearances in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Instructing solicitors praise the barristers as “fantastic people who have great experience, drive and commitment.”
Chambers UK 2016

“First choice for homelessness work.” It is an excellent set with a brilliant complement of barristers at all levels. “The clerks are friendly and helpful, and call back when they promise to.” Senior civil clerk Phil Bampfylde “always goes the extra mile, no matter how trivial the request.”
Legal 500 2015

Recent Notable Housing Law Cases

We have appeared in many of the leading housing cases of recent years. A selection of just the most recent higher court cases in which members of the team have appeared includes:

2015

  • Mohamoud v Kensington and RLBC; Saleem v Wandsworth LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 780: homelessness appeal dealing with the relevance of the best interests of the child to decision making under Part VII Housing Act 1996.
  • Alemi v Westminster CC [2015] EWHC 1765 (Admin): successful judicial review challenge to the legality of an allocation scheme excluding homeless persons from bidding for social housing.
  • Hotak v Southwark LBC, Kanu v Southwark LBC & Johnson v Solihull MBC [2015] UKSC 30: the leading case on whether a homeless person is ’vulnerable’ for the purposes of s189(1)(c) Housing Act 1996.
  • Nzolameso v Westminster CC 2015 UKSC 22: leading case on the circumstances in which a homeless person may be accommodated out of borough and the relevance of the best interests of the child in the context of an application for homelessness assistance.
  • R (AM) v Havering LBC [2015] EWHC 1004 9 (Admin): duty to accommodate intentionally homeless family, and assess needs under Children Act 1989, where local housing authority have placed family out of borough, and accommodation due to come to an end.
  • Akerman-Livingston v Aster Communities Limited [2015] UKSC 15: the threshold to apply in considering a disability discrimination defence under Equality Act 2010 in possession proceedings.
  • Nicholas v Secretary of State for Defence [2015] EWCA Civ 53: whether the exclusion of Crown licences from the statutory security of tenure regimes was discriminatory under Art.8 and Art.14 ECHR.  
  • Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWCA Civ 49: challenge to the legality of regulations excluding “Zambrano carers” from mainstream welfare benefits and accommodation under the Housing Act 1996. 
  • R (Hillsden) v Epping Forest DC [2015] EWHC 98 (Admin): whether a local authority is required under Part VI, Housing Act 1996 to include a residual discretion within its allocation scheme to cater for exceptional cases. 
  • Hussain v Waltham Forest LBC [2015] EWCA Civ 14: in deciding whether an individual is homeless within the meaning of s175 Housing Act 1996 the phrase ‘other violence’ in s177(1) should be construed as covering not only physical violence but other threatening or intimidating behaviour or abuse of sufficient gravity to give rise to psychological harm. 

2014

  • Lambeth LBC v Harry Loveridge [2014] UKSC 65: the leading case on the approach to damages under ss27-28 Housing Act 1988 in unlawful eviction cases.
  • Lawal v Circle 33 Housing Trust [2014] EWCA Civ 1514: whether an occupier may rely on Article 8 to resist the enforcement of a warrant of eviction
  • Cutler v Barnet LBC (QBD) 31 October 2014: a refusal by a judge to consider an oral application for relief from sanctions in possession proceedings, leaving the Defendant unable to defend proceedings, amounted to a breach of Article 6.
  • Nzolameso v Westminster CC [2014] EWCA Civ 1383: leading case on the circumstances in which a local authority may place a homeless applicant outside of their district.
  • R (Yekini) v Southwark LBC [2014] EWHC 2096 (Admin): in an appropriate case a local housing authority may charge a homeless applicant a nominal or ‘peppercorn’ rent.
  • Birmingham City Council v Janet Beech [2014] EWCA Civ 830: whether the relationship of tenant and landlord’s agent give rises to a presumption of undue influence, rendering a Notice to Quit served by the tenant void.
  • Hines v Lambeth [2014] EWCA Civ 660: consideration of the best interests of the child in assessing the eligibility of a ‘Zambrano carer’ for Part VII accommodation.
  • R (Alansi) v Newham LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 786: whether an assurance given by a local housing authority that the Claimant’s priority on the authority’s allocation scheme would not be affected were she to accept accommodation in the private sector, gave rise to a legitimate expectation from which it would be unlawful to resile.
  • Aster Communities Limited v Jonathan Akerman-Livingston [2014] EWCA Civ 1081: leading case (currently under appeal) on the threshold to be applied in considering whether a defence to a possession claim based on the Equality Act 2010 should proceed beyond the initial hearing.
  • Southend on Sea BC v Armour [2014] EWCA Civ 231: the first Court of Appeal case to uphold the refusal to make a possession order on Article 8 grounds.
  • Flynn v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014] EWHC 390 (Admin): failure by a council to consider whether a mobile home occupier had a implied licence to occupy certain land.

Publications, Advice and Training

Our work extends beyond the courtroom. We also spend time training, advising and writing on housing issues. Our members have written or co-authored some of the most important works currently available in housing law:

We have also written two of the Jordans Special Bulletins (on The Homelessness Act 2002 and Housing and the Human Rights Act).

We regularly contribute articles and case reports to professional publications such as Legal Action, Journal of Housing Law, Solicitors Journal, Landlord and Tenant Review and the New Law Journal.

Over many years, we have supported the Housing Law Practitioners’ Association (HLPA) as both ordinary and executive members, and by giving talks and attending meetings. We have also taken part in numerous training courses provided by or in association with the Legal Action Group, the Law Society, Liberty and others.

Service to our clients

We are proud of the professional, approachable and up-to-date housing law service that we provide.

If you would like more information about the housing team, please email the clerks or call us on 020 7993 7600.

Chambers’ housing team operates an urgent work and out of hours rota. The housing clerks can be contacted on 07920 497 962 and will be pleased to arrange for members of the team to assist with urgent work.

Please note that this number is for the legal profession only. Calls that are not related to urgent housing work cannot be dealt with on this number. Enquiries from members of the public cannot be dealt with on this number. They may find the DirectGov website helpful.

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