Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 174 - 10 May 2010

Monday 10 May 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social housing complaints: tenants of social housing in England can complain about their landlords' services either to the Local Government Ombudsmen (council housing) or the Housing Ombudsman (most other social housing). The two Ombudsman services have recently agreed a protocol to improve joint working between them. For more details, click here. In Wales, tenants of social housing can complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. For details of that service, click here.

Dogs in social housing: several social landlords have responded to the DEFRA consultation exercise on whether current legislation relating to dangerous dogs adequately protects the public and encourages responsible dog ownership. The consultation applies to dangerous dogs in England and Wales and closes on 1 June 2010. For the consultation details, click here.

Temporary accommodation and the homeless: in an attempt to meet the Government's target for a 50% reduction in the use of temporary accommodation for the homeless by the end of this year, Westminster City Council in London has restricted access of other groups of bidders to its choice based lettings scheme for long-term homes. It has indicated that "the Council's priority from April 2010 to December 2010 is to house homeless households out of temporary accommodation. This means some other groups will be unable to bid until later in the year." The lists of applicants who currently are unable to bid can be found here.

Homelessness: the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, FEANTSA, hosted a Housing Rights Conference on Friday 6 May 2010. For more details of the organisation and its work, click here. On 4 June 2010 FEANTSA is staging a Conference on Local strategies to address the different faces of homelessness. For more details of the event, click here.

Possession claims in Wales: homeowners and tenants in Wales who are facing the possibility of repossession for arrears of mortgage payments or rent can contact Housing Debt Helpline Wales on 0800 107 1340. For its online help pages, click here. The Helpline has just been awarded a further £58,000 grant from the Welsh Assembly to support its services in 2010/2011. For more details, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

R (A) v A Local Authority
[2010] EWHC 848 (Admin) [2010] All ER (D) 49 May
The claimant's parents were unable to look after her. The council could have applied for a care order but asked the claimant's grandmother if she would accommodate the claimant and she agreed to do so. The question then arose whether the accommodation with the grandmother had been arranged under Children Act 1989 section 17 (a power to assist) or section 20 (duty to accommodate). The High Court held that the claimant was a "looked after" child and that her placement with the grandmother by the local authority had been in performance of a section 20 duty. It followed that the grandmother was entitled to payments from the council.

5 May 2010
Azam & Co v Legal Services Commission
[2010] EWHC 960 (Ch)
The claimant, a firm of solicitors, holds an LSC contract to provide legal services that expires on 13 October 2010. It failed to submit its application for a new contract for 2010/2013 by the deadline advertised on the LSC website. It complained that it had not been directly told the deadline and that the LSC had wrongly failed to extend time to allow it to make a late application. The High Court rejected both claims. For the full judgment, click here.

29 April 2010
Brookes v Secretary of State
[2010] EWCA Civ 420.
In many housing cases engaging Article 8 ECHR, the question arises of whether the action of a "public authority" was "proportionate". In this judicial review decision about child support, the Court of Appeal set out the correct approach to the proportionality test in these terms:
"The test of proportionality is not identical to the question whether an action in Wednesbury unreasonable, albeit that in many cases both tests may on the facts yield the same answer. Whereas the Wednesbury test involves asking whether the decision was within the range of those reasonably or rationally available to the decision maker, where proportionality is in question, the court must apply anxious scrutiny to ensure that the decision maker has struck the balance fairly between the conflicting interests of the claimant's right to respect for family life on the one hand and the public or competing interests within Article 8(2) on the other. In doing so, however, the court does not simply substitute its own decision. Its function is supervisory. It recognises and allows to the public body's decision maker a discretionary area of judgment. It will often be appropriate to adopt the two-stage process of asking first whether the intended objective can be achieved by means less interfering with the Article 8 right and second whether, if not, yet still the effect is excessive or disproportionate."
For the full judgment, click here.

Housing Law Books

Housing Allocation and Homelessness - new edition
The new edition of Housing Allocation and Homelessness: Law and Practice by Jan Luba QC and Liz Davies has been published. Price: £50.00.
For full details, click here.

Repairs: tenants' rights
The new edition of Repairs: tenants' rights by Jan Luba QC, Deirdre Forster and Beatrice Prevatt has been published. Price: £45.00. For full details, click here.
To watch an independent review, click here.
To read an independent review, click here.

Housing Law Handbook - 10% off
The Housing Law Handbook, edited by Stephen Cottle and written by other members of the Garden Court Housing Team, provides a first port of call for lawyers and advisers dealing with housing. The book covers possession proceedings, homelessness rights, the allocation of social housing, and other routes into housing. To claim your 10% discount, order online and quote promotion code GCTHLH when prompted.
To read an independent review, click here.

Housing Law Consultations

Closing on 19 May 2010
The Welsh Assembly Government consultation exercise on common performance standards for social housing providers in Wales. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 28 May 2010
The Welsh Assembly Government consultation exercise on intermediate housing for rent in Wales and a "rent first" model. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 28 May 2010
The Scottish Government's consultation on the protection of tenants of social housing with rent arrears. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Closing on 6 July 2010
The UK Government's consultation on new proposals for council housing finance. For the consultation documents, click here.

Closing 20 July 2010
The consultation exercise on the proposed new procedural rules for the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Housing Law Events in May and June 2010

This Week

13 May 2010
Social Housing Law and Practice
A Lime Legal Conference in London
For the details, click here.

14 May 2010
Homelessness and Allocations
A Legal Action Group Training Day in London
For the details, click here.

May 2010

20 May 2010
Homelessness: Getting Past the Gatekeepers!
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here.

27 May 2010
Part 6 and the Allocation Game
HLPA General meeting in London
For the details, click here.

27 May 2010
Homelessness Update
An SHLA training event in London
For the details, click here.

June 2010

14 June 2010
Introduction to Housing Law
A Legal Action Group Training Day in London
For the details, click here.

17 June 2010
Public Law Defences and Article 8
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar.
For the details, click here.

25 June 2010
Housing and Anti-Social Behaviour
A Jordans Conference in London
For the details, click here.

28 June 2010
Housing Disrepair
A Legal Action Group Training Day in London
For the details, click here.

29 June 2010
Housing Law 2010
An NHC Conference in York
For the details, click here.

 

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