Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 186 - 13 September 2010

Monday 13 September 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Social Housing Allocation: while the Coalition Government reflects on whether changes should be made to the law on social housing allocation, the National Housing Federation has issued a detailed discussion paper on the topic inviting responses by 30 September 2010. For a copy, click here. The Scottish Executive Government is consulting on a practice guide to the statutory scheme in Scotland. Responses are sought by 29 October 2010. For a copy of that consultation paper, click here. One London Borough (Lambeth) has closed its allocation scheme to new applicants for several months while it introduces new arrangements for paperless applications. For details, click here. In its report Making Housing Affordable, the Policy Exchange has suggested that while the long-term disabled should remain in a priority category for social housing allocation, all other applicants should be prioritised by local family connection, length of residence and waiting time. For a copy of that report, click here.

Housing Law on Legal Aid: in the light of legal challenges arising from the latest tender round for legal aid contracts, all current Unified Contracts (including Housing Law) have been extended by the Legal Services Commission to mid-November 2010. New contracts which were due to start in October 2010 will be deferred until the extended expiry date of the old contracts. For more details, click here.

Help for Homeowners: in August 2010 the latest figures for mortgage repossessions in England were released. For the Council of Mortgage Lenders figures, click here. For the Courts Service figures click here. New research shows that even greater numbers than those covered by the official figures have abandoned home ownership. For a copy of the research paper, click here. For a summary of the findings, click here. The Coalition Government has called on homeowners in difficulties to seek help at an early stage. For the Secretary of State's statement, click here. For the latest statistics on the operation of the Mortgage Rescue Scheme in England, click here.

Gypsies and Travellers: on 29 August 2010 the Coalition Government announced that it had decided to implement the provisions of the Housing & Regeneration Act 2008 which give residents on local authority gypsy and traveller sites equivalent security of tenure to that enjoyed by other mobile home site residents. For a copy of the announcement, click here. The hope is to achieve implementation in February 2011. However, in answer to a Parliamentary Question the Coalition Government announced that it also intends to revoke Planning Circulars 01/06 and 04/07. They are to be replaced with light-touch guidance outlining councils' statutory obligations to those on unauthorised encampments. For that answer, click here.

Homelessness: the Coalition Government has published new experimental statistics on the effectiveness (or otherwise) of homelessness prevention work. For the details, click here. The latest quarterly statistics on homelessness applications in England were released on 9 September 2010. For those figures, click here.

Repairs: despite the billions of pounds invested in social housing refurbishment over the past decade there are still projected to be about 400,000 non-decent council and housing association homes in England by the end of 2010. For the latest projections, click here.

Housing & Domestic Violence: government-commissioned research published last month has reviewed the effectiveness of measures designed to prevent victims of domestic violence from having to leave their homes. For a copy of the research, click here. For a summary of the research, click here. For a related practice guide, click here. For the Government's announcement at the launch of these publications, click here.

Shared Ownership: on 7 September 2010, Promoting Shared Ownership - a group of 21 housing associations - published Shared Ownership Facts & Figures. For a copy, click here. For research on the problems low cost shared ownership can bring see: K. McKee's Promoting homeownership at the margins (2010) People, Place & Policy Online 4/2 p38.To read the article, click here. See too David Cowan's Shared Ownership: Some Problems of Law and Policy [2010] Journal of Housing Law 56.

Inspecting Housing Services: in August 2010 the Coalition Government announced that the Audit Commission - which presently undertakes the function of inspecting social housing providers and other housing services - is to be wound up. It has suggested that the protection of the interests of tenants will be secured in future by, among other measures, an enhanced role for local government ombudsmen. For the announcement, click here.

More HMOs: on 7 September 2010 the Coalition Government confirmed that, following consultation, it had decided to relax planning restraints on conversion of individual houses to HMO use. For the announcement, click here. For the letter issued to local planning authorities, click here. For the relevant new regulations, click here.

Ombudsmen and Housing: on 2 September 2010 the Law Commission issued a consultation paper on reforming the statutory provisions governing public services ombudsmen including the Housing Ombudsman, the Local Government Ombudsmen and the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Responses are invited by 3 December 2010. For a copy of the consultation paper, click here.

Rents in Northern Ireland: from 1 October 2010 certain private sector registered rents in Northern Ireland will increase by 1.9%. For a copy of the Order making that change, click here.

Leasehold and Commonhold: the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) is expanding its services. From 16 September 2010, its helpline - 020 7383 9800 - will be open from 9am to 5pm and from 20 September 2010 the line will be open on Mondays until 8pm. From 21 September 2010 it will also provide a morning duty scheme at the London office of the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more details, click here. Since the inception of the commonhold scheme, LEASE has been funded by government to provide an advisory service on commonhold arrangements. The Ministry of Justice has now withdrawn that funding. For a copy of the statement issued by LEASE, click here.

Home Information Packs: on 10 September 2010 the Coalition Government published research that it suggests vindicates its decision to scrap the HIPs. For a copy of the research papers, click here. For the announcement on publication, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

A2 Dominion North Ltd v Godfrey
[2010] EWCA Civ 941
29 July 2010
In January 2009 the claimant social landlord brought a claim for possession for rent arrears against the defendant, an assured tenant. In April 2009 a Debt Relief Order was made in respect of his indebtedness, including the arrears. Notwithstanding that order, a suspended possession order was later made requiring payment of the arrears by instalments. An appeal against that order was dismissed. On a renewed application, the Court of Appeal has granted the tenant permission to bring a second appeal. It decided that the issue of whether the possession claim or order was a "remedy in respect of a debt" for the purposes of the Insolvency Act 1986 required consideration by the full Court.

Brightlingsea Haven Ltd v Morris
[2010] EWCA Civ 1003
21 July 2010
A dispute between owners and residents on a mobile home park site resulted in a judgment of the High Court on a range of issues. The Court of Appeal has now granted the residents permission to appeal on grounds which raise questions about the meaning of "protected sites" in the Caravan Sites Act 1968. For the High Court judgment, click here.

R (Birara) v Hounslow LBC
[2010] EWHC 2113 (Admin)
16 July 2010
The claimant entered the UK aged 17 and applied for asylum. The council provided her with accommodation and support under section 20 of the Children Act 1989. It continued that assistance after she turned 18, under care-leaver provisions. When the claimant turned 21 (by which time she had had a child, was in further education and her latest Home Office application was awaiting determination) the council decided to withdraw its support for her. The High Court allowed a claim for judicial review of that decision. The council's pathway plan for the claimant had been flawed, it had failed to have regard to its relevant policies and it had misunderstood the claimant's immigration status. For the High Court's judgment, click here.

R(MC) v Liverpool CC
[2010] EWHC 2211 (Admin)
16 July 2010
The claimant, an Iranian national, sought assistance from the council with accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 on the basis that he was a child, having been born in March 1994. The council decided that he was two years older than he claimed. He sought judicial review of that decision. The High Court decided that he was most likely born in September 1992 and substituted an assessment to that effect. For the judgment, click here.

Southern Housing Group v Leasehold Valuation Tribunal
[2010] UKUT 237 (LC)
15 July 2010
Tenants of two social landlords applied to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to review their service charges. The Tribunal decided that it had jurisdiction because in each case the tenancy agreements provided for 'variable' charges within section 18(1)(b) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. The landlords appealed. The Upper Tribunal dismissed the appeals. In each case the LVT had correctly construed the tenancy agreements as providing for variation of charges which fell within the 1985 Act. For the Upper Tribunal judgment, click here.

Quinn v Athlone Town Council
[2010] IEHC 270
8 July 2010
Ms Quinn was a tenant of the council. Following service of a notice to quit in September 2008, the council sought an order for possession. Ms Quinn defended those proceedings but an order was made because she had no security of tenure and the local court was required to grant the order in those circumstances. In July 2009 she sought judicial review, contending that the process of eviction without providing her with an opportunity to defend the claim on its merits was a violation of her rights under Article 8. The Irish High Court rejected her claim. The proper target of her challenge should have been the service of the notice to quit which ended her tenancy. Her claim for judicial review of that decision was out of time. For the full judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Home Truths
(reflections on specialising in Housing Law)
P. Hoult
[2010] September Legal Executive 24

Gang ban
(commentary use of tenancy agreements to prohibit gang membership)
R. Wassall
[2010] 8 September Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Unfair terms: landlord and tenant
(a discussion of a county court judgment on unfair terms for agents' commission on landlords' renewals of assured shorthold tenancy agreements)
Editor
(2010) Consumer Law Today August/September Issue p1

An end to ASBOs
J. Plant
[2010] 27 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

The future of Arms Length Management Organisations: the uncertain fate of a social housing hybrid
R.Close and I. Powell
(2010) People, Place & Policy Online issue 4/2, p.50.
To read the article, click here.

Unlock Sex Offender Data
(commentary on an application made by a housing association to the Information Commissioner)
E. Gilpin
[2010] 31 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Led Astray by "Dwellings"
(discussion of the meaning of the term in Landlord & Tenant Act 1985)
R. Crozier
[2010] 14 Landlord & Tenant Review 138

Who will succeed?
(commentary on Solihull MBC v Hickin)
Y. Dania
[2010] 20 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Assured Shorthold tenancies - all change
(discussion of the increased rent threshold for ASTs)
K. Fenn
[2010] 14 Landlord & Tenant Review 157

A Breach in Security
(comments on possible removal of security of tenure in social housing)
H. Stephens
[2010] 20 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

No surrender?
N. Knapman and S. Dean
(2010) 160 New Law Journal p1213

Lightening the Load
(Mortgage rescue scheme)
S. Evans
[2010] 9 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Last Resort
(commentary on Brumby v Octavia Hill)
N. Brand
[2010] 9 August Inside Housing
To read the article, click here.

Housing Law Books

Defending Possession Proceedings
The new (seventh) edition of Defending Possession Proceedings by Jan Luba QC, John Gallagher, Derek McConnell and Nic Madge runs to over 1000 pages and was published last month. Price: £55.00. For full details, click here.

Housing Allocation and Homelessness
The new (second) 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.
To read an independent review, click here.

Repairs: tenants' rights
The new (fourth) 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, 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 Events

THIS WEEK

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.

LATER THIS MONTH

22 September 2010
The Homelessness Update 2010
An HLPA General Meeting in London
For the full details, click here.

24 September 2010
Using Public Law in Housing Cases
A Legal Action Group training event in London
For more 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.

THIS AUTUMN

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 leading team from Garden Court Chambers will give an up-to-date overview of all aspects of judicial review including housing law, together with practical advice on how to apply the law successfully.
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.

17 November 2010
The Housing Law Update 2010
An HLPA General Meeting in London
For the details, click here.

30 November 2010
Residential Landlord & Tenant Conference
A Professional Conferences event in London
For the details, click here.

1 December 2010
Housing Management Conference 2010
A Lime Legal conference in London
For the details, click here.

15 December 2010
HLPA Annual Conference
A London Conference
For the details, click here.

 

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