Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 181 - 5 July 2010

Monday 5 July 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Legal Aid for Housing Cases: on 30 June 2010 the Lord Chancellor gave further details of the direction of travel of the legal aid review currently underway in the Ministry of Justice. He said "Nobody feels more strongly than this Government about the need to make sure everyone has access to the most important aspects of justice. In particular, the poor and the vulnerable need access in cases where their liberty or key aspects of their wellbeing are at risk" before outlining likely areas for reform. For his full speech, click here.

Council Housing: on 29 June 2010 the UK government published the results of the 2008 tenant satisfaction survey for council renting in England. The results indicate a general high level of satisfaction but less than half of tenants reporting anti-social behaviour were happy with their council's response. For the full report, click here. For a summary, click here.

Social Housing Mobility: a pilot scheme to help social tenants transfer to other homes in order to move closer to their workplaces or take up job opportunities and apprenticeships is now open. The JobMoves scheme covers the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and North West regions of England. For more details, click here.

Regulating Social Housing: the Tenant Services Authority wrote to all social housing providers on 1 July 2010 to confirm that, while the review of regulation of social housing is underway, the provisions of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 remain in force. The letter affirms the TSA's continuing regulatory function and urges providers to complete their first Annual Report to Tenants by 1 October 2010 and to have locally negotiated "offers" in place by April 2011. For a copy of the letter, click here. To help landlords develop "local offers", the TSA and Housemark are presenting a series of events around the country. For the details, click here.

Housing in Wales: on 29 June 2010 the Deputy Minister for Housing in the Welsh Assembly Government announced that the UK coalition government had agreed to support the Parliamentary passage of a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) relating to Housing and passed by the Assembly on 9 February 2010. The LCO will enable the Assembly to make its own laws to tackle issues such as improved regulation of Registered Social Landlords, securing greater homelessness provision, bringing empty homes back into use, security of tenure, and supporting the most vulnerable. For the press statement, click here.

Housing Benefit Changes: a full summary of the changes to the Housing Benefit scheme announced in the Budget on 22 June 2010 is given in the latest issue of Housing Benefit Direct (Issue 103, July 2010). For a copy, click here. The Valuation Office Agency has published a table providing indicative figures showing how the planned changes announced on 22 June could affect Local Housing Allowance rates. For a copy, click here. To help enable local authorities to assist those tenants who will face the most serious impacts of the changes, the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) allocation is to increase by £10m in 2011/12 and by £40m in 2012/13. In previous years some local authorities have underspent their DHP allocations. Advisers will wish to ensure this does not recur. Further information about DHPs is given in the CPAG's National Welfare Benefits Handbook at Chapter 10 section 10.

New Affordable House Building: on 29 June 2010 the UK Housing Minister confirmed that plans for Local Housing Trusts will be included in the forthcoming Decentralisation and Localism Bill, due to be introduced this Autumn. For the press announcement, click here. For the full speech, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Ravichandreran v Lewisham LBC
[2010] EWCA Civ
2 July 2010
The council owed the claimants the main housing duty (section 193) under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Act 1996. It made an offer of 'permanent' accommodation which was refused. The suitability of that offer was upheld on review and a further review upheld a decision to treat the duty as discharged. The county court judge dismissed an appeal. The Court of Appeal allowed a second appeal. The reviews had not taken into account the claimants' objections to the offered accommodation based on fear of racial harassment. The Court gave general guidance on the notification of accommodation offers and review rights. For the full judgment, click here.

Day v Hosebay Ltd
[2010] EWCA Civ 748
1 July 2010
Hosebay were the leaseholders of three buildings in a street. The buildings had originally been constructed as large town houses but were being used, following internal conversion, to provide short term accommodation for tourists and other visitors in numerous individual rooms with self catering facilities. Hosebay claimed the right to acquire the freeholds on the basis that each building was a "house" for the purposes of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 section 2. That provides that a "house" includes "any building designed or adapted for living in and reasonably so called". The judge allowed the claim. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal gave broad guidance on how the meaning of "house" should be approached under the Act. For the judgment, click here.

Metropolitan HT v Hadjazi
[2010] EWCA Civ
1 July 2010
The defendant was the assured tenant of a four-bedroom house which he occupied with his wife and their children. The relationship was violent and eventually the defendant moved out. While the parties were separated there were further incidents of violence by the defendant and the wife and children then left and were re-housed. The landlord sought possession relying on Housing Act 1988 Schedule 2 Ground 14. The judge dismissed the claim because the acts of violence that caused the wife to leave had taken place after they had ceased to live together in the house. The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal. It found the terms of Ground 14 satisfied and remitted the case to a different judge to decide whether it would be reasonable to order possession. For the judgment, click here.

Mayor of London v Hall
[2010] EWHC 1613 (QB)
29 June 2010
Ms Hall pitched her tent on Parliament Square Gardens in London as part of the Democracy Village peace camp. The Mayor of London sought a possession order against her and the other protesters on the gardens. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 vested title to the gardens in the Queen but gave management and control to the GLA, acting through the Mayor. Ms Hall defended on the basis that the Mayor could not maintain a possession claim in the absence of a right to possession or, alternatively, that a possession order would infringe her rights to assemble and protest. The High Court granted a possession order. The judge said that the functions of the GLA under the Act put the Mayor in sufficient control of the gardens to amount to occupation and to sustain a possession claim. A possession order would not infringe Ms Hall's human rights as it was a proportionate response to an unauthorised encampment. For the judgment, click here.

Harrow LBC v Wilson
[2010] EWHC 1574 (QB)
28 June 2010
Mr and Mrs Wilson were joint secure tenants of the council. Their relationship broke down and Mr Wilson gave notice to quit to end the tenancy. The council then sought possession against Mrs Wilson. She claimed that the rule of common law that enabled one joint tenant to unilaterally end the joint tenancy by notice was incompatible with Article 8 ECHR and invited the court to modify the common law so that the notice be treated as either an assignment by both to one or a release by both to one. The judge granted possession and Mrs Wilson appealed. The High Court held that the common law rule was not incompatible with Article 8 and dismissed the appeal. The court declined to determine whether it was possible for two joint secure tenants to assign to one of them. For the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles and Papers

Keeping Warm Communally
(energy conservation in leasehold flats)
N. Roberts
[2010] 160 New Law Journal 897

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

This Week

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

This Month

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

This Month

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

13 July 2010
Anti-Social Behaviour
An HLPA intermediate training seminar
For the details, click here.

Autumn 2010

9 September 2010
Applying Article 8 ECHR to secure Accommodation for Persons Subject to Immigration Control
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar.
For full details, click here.

14 September 2010
Tenancy Agreements
A CIH conference in London
For full details, click here.

16 September 2010
Housing Allocation and Homelessness
A Jordans conference in London
For full details, click here.

30 September 2010
Preventing Homelessness and Protecting Homeowners National Conference 2010
A Lime Legal event in London
For more details, click here.

7 October 2010
Social Housing Allocation Conference 2010
A Lime Legal event in London
For more details, click here.

14 October 2010
Judicial Review Conference
A Garden Court Chambers one-day conference in Birmingham on all aspects of judicial review
For full details, click here

14 October 2010
Anti-social Behaviour and Social Housing conference 2010
A Lime Legal event in London
For more details, click here.

21 October 2010
Anti Social Behaviour Possession Claims and Injunctions
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here.

11 November 2010
Gypsies, Travellers and Unauthorised Encampments
A Garden Court Chambers evening seminar
For the details, click here.

 

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