Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 175 - 17 May 2010

Monday 17 May 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Housing Policy: the new Housing Minister in the UK Government is Grant Shapps MP. He reports to the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG) - Eric Pickles MP. The other ministerial appointments in the CLG team are: Minister of State - Greg Clark MP; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Andrew Stunell OBE MP; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Bob Neill MP; and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Baroness Hanham CBE. The initial Coalition Agreement reached by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats on 11 May 2010 contains only two brief commitments on Housing: (1) the provision of home energy improvement paid for by the savings from lower energy bills and (2) retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping Home Information Packs. For a copy of the full text of the initial agreement, click here. A fuller Coalition Agreement is expected in the next few weeks.

Mortgage Possession claims: the first task that the Secretary of State allocated to the new Housing Minister on 12 May 2010 was to "take a fresh look at existing Government schemes which help homeowners". For the terms of the request, click here. The figures for mortgage possession claims in the first three months of 2010 were released on 13 May 2010. They show that 18,504 claims were issued in that period and 14,373 possession orders were made. For the full statistics, click here.

In the same three months, lenders who are members of the Council of Mortgage Lenders actually took possession of 9800 properties. For the CML statistics, click here. The number of "offers" made to help homeowners under the UK Government's Mortgage Rescue Scheme remains relatively low. For the latest statistics on applications under that scheme, click here.

Housing work on Legal Aid: the Legal Services Commission (LSC) is presently assessing applications for contracts to provide legal services in Housing Law (with Family or with Debt plus welfare Benefits) from 14 October 2010. The deadline for submitting bids passed on 21 April 2010. Notification of outcomes is now expected to take place in early July 2010 (later than previously planned). The bid round for contracts to provide LSC-funded Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes will start in June. For more details of these developments, click here.

Housing Benefit and EU nationals: following the decisions of the European Court of Justice in the homelessness cases of Teixeira and Ibrahim, a new Housing Benefit Circular has been issued to local authorities on benefit entitlement for certain EU nationals with children at school in the UK. For a copy of Right to reside - parent and primary carer of a child in education HB/CTB A10/2010, click here. Further and more general guidance about the impact of the decisions across the spectrum of welfare benefits is given in the memo Right to reside - parent and primary carer of a child in education DMG 30/10. For a copy, click here.

Housing in Northern Ireland: the independent Housing Rights Service has produced a useful fact file on the recently passed Housing Amendment Act 2010. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

John Smith & Co (Edinburgh) Ltd v Hill
[2010] EWHC 1016 (Ch)
With a view to enabling renovation and refurbishment of its upper floors, scaffolding was erected around a building. In due course, the work was abandoned but the scaffolding remained in place. The tenants of the ground floor and basement complained to their landlords. Those landlords in turn brought a claim in nuisance against the companies responsible for not removing the scaffolding. The claim was disputed on the basis of a legal rule that a reversioner who was not in possession could not bring a claim arising from a temporary nuisance. The High Court decided that despite that objection the claim would have to be tried. For the full judgment, click here.

Ahmed v Murphy
[2010] EWHC 453 (Admin)
10 May 2010
Mr Murphy had lived in a furnished first floor flat, above a restaurant in London, for 34 years. The rent had last been registered in 1984 at £8.50pw. His landlords applied to the rent officer to fix a fair rent of £140-£180pw. A rent assessment committee decided in 2009 that the rent could only be increased to a capped maximum of £8.50pw. The landlords appealed, pursuing - through "diffuse" grounds of appeal - six points of law. The High Court reviewed the Rent Act rent-fixing regime, the increase-capping provisions, and their application by the committee. It substituted a registered rent of only £20pw. For the full judgment, click here.

Lambeth LBC v Emeter
[2010] EWCA Civ 527
27 April 2010
The council granted the defendant a secure tenancy of a two bedroomed flat to provide a home for himself and his young son following his separation from his wife. Ten years later the council served notice to quit on the basis that security of tenure had been lost because the tenant was not occupying as his only or principal home: Housing Act 1985 section 81. It claimed that the child had never lived in the flat, it had been sub-let for over 3 years and the tenant was living with his wife at a different address. After a two-day trial, the judge granted a possession order. The tenant's application for permission to appeal, based on an argument that he had retained a locked room in the flat for his exclusive use and therefore not lost security by subletting the whole (Housing Act 1985 section 93), was rejected by the Court of Appeal. The judge had been entitled to conclude that the tenant had ceased to occupy.

R(C) v Nottingham City Council
[2010] EWCA Civ 501
10 March 2010
The Court of Appeal has given permission to appeal from the High Court in yet another judicial review claim seeking to establish whether young homeless applicants had been assisted under Children Act 1989 section 20 to obtain housing or, rather, had been housed by the housing department under Housing Act 1996 Part 7. The appeal will be heard on 30 June or 1 July.

Housing Law Articles

A whole new rule book
(regulation of ALMOs)
G. Hall
[2010] Inside Housing, 14 May p41.
To read the article, 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

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

May 2010

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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