Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 179 - 21 June 2010

Monday 21 June 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Homelessness: the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP, announced on 16 June 2010 that the UK Government would undertake an overhaul of the arrangements for measuring the numbers of rough sleepers. For the details, click here. A ministerial inter-departmental committee has also been established, to take forward measures to tackle homelessness. For the membership of the committee, click here.

HMOs: on 17 June 2010 the Government announced that it would be reversing measures introduced on 6 April 2010 to use general planning controls to prevent unauthorised conversion of properties into HMOs. The measures were expected to generate more than 8000 new planning applications. However, local authorities will now be able to use local planning powers to require planning applications only where they consider appropriate. For more detail, click here.

Security of tenure in social housing: on 10 June 2010 the Housing Minister, asked for an assurance that future tenants of so9cial housing would enjoy the same security of tenure as existing tenants told the House of Commons "There are 1.8 million families languishing on that social housing waiting list, and it is right and proper that we look at the way in which we can reduce that list. It may include looking at tenure for the future.": Hansard Col.451. For the rest of the issues raised with the Minister in his first Commons Questions, click here.

Social landlords working with tenants: the Tenants Services Authority (the demise of which is likely to be announced this week) funded 39 trailblazer pilot projects with grants of up to £9,000 from the TSA's Tenant Excellence Fund. The successful bidders were expected to work on negotiating local service initiatives with tenants. HQN was appointed to report on the work of the pilots and to produce a toolkit to help other providers agree local offers with their tenants. Last week both documents were published. For the report, Local standards trailblazers - what has been learned?, click here. For the toolkit, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

OFS Scaffolding Ltd v Sable
[2010] EWCA Civ 682
17 June 2010
A landlord sought possession against a (commercial) tenant on the grounds that the tenancy had been surrendered "by operation of law". The judge decided that the lease had been surrendered and granted possession. The Court of Appeal allowed the tenant's appeal. Although the judgment largely turns on the facts, it contains a useful modern restatement of the law on surrender "by operation of law" i.e. without using a Deed of Surrender. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Lambert v Barratt Homes Ltd
[2010] EWCA Civ 681
16 June 2010
The claimants brought a claim in nuisance against their local council. They claimed that water accumulating on the council's land had escaped and flooded their homes. The accumulation of water had been the result of local housing development work which had interfered with previous drainage arrangements. The judge upheld the claim but the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. In doing so it gave guidance as to the extent of the measured duty of care that one property owner might owe to a neighbour to control the escape of accumulated surface water from its land. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Mwanza v Greenwich LBC and Bromley LBC
[2010] EWHC 1462 (Admin)
15 June 2010.
The claimant lived with his wife and children. They had no settled accommodation and were not UK nationals. He had been admitted to, and later discharged from, compulsory treatment for mental health problems under Mental Health Act 1983. He claimed that Greenwich was obliged to house the family as part of its after care duty in section 117 of the 1983 Act. Alternatively, Bromley had to accommodate under National Assistance Act 1948 section 21. The High Court rejected his claims. Greenwich had long since lawfully discharged it's after care duty and Bromley owed no duty because the claimant had no need of "care" as he was cared-for by his wife. For the judgment, click here.

Hexstone Holdings Ltd v AHC Westlink Ltd
[2010] EWHC 1280 (Ch) [LAWTEL 15 June 2010]
11 June 2010
A company was the tenant under a lease. A clause enabled the tenant to end the lease on six month's written notice. The tenant's parent company gave the landlord such notice. The High Court held that the notice was not valid to determine the lease because the evidence did not show that the parent company had given the notice as the tenant's agent.

Husband v Solihull MBC
[2010] EWCA Civ 684
9 June 2010
Mr and Mrs Husband were joint secure tenants. On breakdown of their marriage, Mrs Husband gave the council notice to quit. Once the notice had expired, the council - on finding the house seemingly empty - took possession. Mr Husband began a claim in the county court for unlawful eviction, claiming that the notice to quit was invalid and that he had been in occupation. He also sought judicial review of the council's decision to act on the notice, claiming that its doing so had infringed his Article 8 rights. The judge refused permission to apply for judicial review. The Court of Appeal refused Mr Husband's renewed application to appeal that decision. It held that any points that Mr Husband wanted to raise about the validity of the notice could be raised in the county court claim and that the contention that the council was wrong to have considered that the house had been abandoned raised questions of fact not appropriate for a judicial review claim.

Yankah v Pick
[2010] EWCA Civ 663
18 May 2010
Mr Yankah was made bankrupt. His trustee applied for possession and sale of the matrimonial home occupied by Mrs Yankah and the four children. In January 2009 a possession order was made. Mrs Yankah sought help from the local CAB and from her council under the local mortgage rescue scheme and applied for more time to stay. The judge refused that application. The Court of Appeal refused permission to appeal. The evidence showed that the local council had not yet implemented a mortgage rescue scheme and that an application under that scheme would not be approved for 'several months' after it was established. The trustee could not 'be kept waiting for ever'.

Housing Law Articles

The Shared Ownership Lease - A Misleading Misnomer
J. Luba
[2010] 14 Landlord & Tenant Review 88

Tenancy deposit protection - where are we now?
J. Scarfe
[2010] 14 Landlord & Tenant Review 97

A lady with a van
(security of tenure in almshouses)
I. Loveland
[2010] Conveyancer & Property Lawyer 234

The emasculation of the tenancy deposit scheme?
(commentary on Draycott)
C. Buckingham
[2010] Conveyancer & Property Lawyer 261

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 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 June and July 2010

This Week & Next

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.

July 2010

2 July 2010
Law on Trial 2010: Housing
A Birkbeck College Social Rights evening seminar
For the details, click here.

8 July 2010
Possession 9/10ths of the law? Not for tenants
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here.

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