Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 192 - 8 November 2010

Monday 8 November 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Fraud in Social Housing: in October 2010 the Audit Commission, in its latest report on measures to protect public funds, called on social landlords to do more to address three forms of social housing fraud: unauthorised sub-letting; using false information in applying for social housing; and wrongful tenancy 'succession'. It outlines successful initiatives by several social landlords which have brought scores of social housing properties back into the stock available to meet real housing need. For a copy of the report, click here.

Using Social Housing for Business Purposes: on 1 November 2010 the Minister for Housing in England (Grant Shapps MP) asked social landlords to take a more positive approach to reasonable requests from social housing tenants for permission to use their homes as their offices or as bases for their businesses. For that announcement, click here. The Chartered Institute of Housing has recently published the guide Running a Business from Home which is directed at social landlords and tenants. For a copy, click here.

Private Tenants' Rights to Improvements: on 2 November 2010 the UK Government announced measures to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector. It said that the forthcoming Energy Bill will create powers allowing any tenant who is asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards. It will also allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes. Whether or not the Government will use these powers will be subject to a review. For more details of the announcement, click here.

Houses in Multiple Occupation: on 4 November 2010 the Government wrote to all local authorities confirming that a replacement for Circular 05/10, which relates to planning and Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and a replacement Appendix D of Circular 09/95, relating to article 4 directions, have been published. For a copy of the letter, click here. For new Circular 8/10, click here. For the replacement to Appendix D click here. Meanwhile, the organisation LACORS has published its latest round up (October 2010) of prosecutions of private landlords in respect of unlawful management of HMOs. For a copy click here.

Housing Benefit changes: the latest official update on progress with the housing benefit reforms and the introduction of a new benefit - Universal Credit - is given in the November 2010 edition of Housing Benefit Direct. For a copy, click here.

Facts and Figures on Housing in England: the November edition of the factsheet Housing & Planning Key Facts (England) has just been published. For a copy, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Manchester CC v Pinnock
[2010] UKSC 45
3 November 2010
The council sought possession of premises occupied by a demoted tenant. It had given the notice required by the Housing Act 1996 and had undertaken a review. It contended that the statutory scheme required the court to grant possession. The Supreme Court held that the statute had to be read as enabling the tenant to raise a defence that the granting of an immediate possession order would be disproportionate. Additionally, where relevant factual matters were in dispute, the court would have to find the facts. These were the requirements of Article 8 of Human Rights Act Schedule 1. Previous decisions of the House of Lords to contrary effect had been overtaken by later decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. On the facts, even if the right question had been asked, the eviction of this particular tenant was proportionate and his appeal was dismissed. For the judgment, click here. For the summary prepared by the Supreme Court, click here. For a commentary prepared by trial counsel for the tenant, click here. For the discussion on the Nearly Legal blog, click here. For the Inside Housing blog on the case, click here. For the EHRC press release, click here. A digest of the case has been Emailed to all HLPA members. The judgment will be discussed on BBC Radio 4's Law in Action on Tuesday (4pm) and Thursday (8pm) this week.

R v Kenston McIntosh
Oxford Crown Court
29 October 2010
The defendant pleaded guilty to an offence of unlawfully evicting a tenant. There had been no written tenancy agreement or rent book and the rent was paid in cash. When the tenant became unemployed and claimed benefits the landlord was asked to confirm the tenancy for housing benefit purposes. The local tenancy relations officer wrote to the landlord setting out what was required if the landlord wished to lawfully evict. Instead, the landlord attended the property, aggressively told the tenant to leave and changed the locks. The court imposed a sentence of three months immediate imprisonment. For further details, click here. [Editor's Note: we are grateful to Nearly Legal for drawing attention to this case]

Broadland DC v Brightwell
[2010] EWCA Civ; [2010] All ER (D) 294 (Oct)
28 October 2010
The council sought an injunction to clear mobile homes and trailers from agricultural land. There had been multiple breaches of planning conditions attaching to the land over a number of years and enforcement notices had been served but ignored. The claim was adjourned to enable a further application for planning permission to be determined and for appeals against the enforcement notices to be heard. The planning inspector took account of the impact that eviction would have on the occupiers Article 8 rights but upheld the council's decision. The claim was restored and the injunction was granted. The Court of Appeal dismissed the occupiers' appeal. The judge had properly weighed the rights of the occupiers against planning factors but the inevitable result was that the balance favoured the making of the order.

Kaye v Lawrence
[2010] EWHC 2678 (TCC)
26 October 2010
The claimant and defendant were adjoining property owners. A dispute arose in relation to proposed works near the boundary between their properties. The dispute was subject to an award under the Party Walls Act 1996. The claimant exercised the statutory right to an appeal against the award. The appeal was allowed and the judgment of the High Court judge gives much useful guidance on the construction of the legislation and practice and procedure for the resolution of disputes arising under it. For the judgment, click here.

Brent LBC v Adil
[2010] EWCA Civ; [2010] All ER (D) 233 (Oct)
21 October 2010
In 2001 the council gave planning permission for the addition of a two storey extension and a front porch to a house. An inspection in 2004 revealed that the building had been converted into an HMO of eight flats - six in the main house and two in the extension. The council served an enforcement notice requiring the property to be restored for single household use. In 2007 it granted further planning permission for the two storey extension. In answer to a prosecution for breach of the enforcement notice, the owners claimed that the new permission remedied any breach of the enforcement notice. The prosecution was dismissed. The High Court allowed the council's appeal. It was entitled to pursue enforcement of the notice.

Ramzan v Brookwide Ltd
[2010] EWHC 2453 (Ch)
8 October 2010
Two adjoining buildings in a street were numbered 123 and 125. The claimant owned the first floor of 125 and an associated storeroom which, while only accessible from 125, was a physical part of the building at 123. The defendants owned 123 and converted it into flats. In the course of doing so, they deliberately incorporated the storeroom into one of the new flats in 123 and blocked access from 125. The claimant brought an action for damages in trespass. In addition to awarding substantial compensatory damages, the High Court ordered the defendants to pay £60,000 exemplary damages to punish the deliberate expropriation of property and to act as a deterrent to others. For the judgment, click here.

Taunton Deane BC v Packman
[2010] EWHC 2437 (QB)
5 October 2010
In breach of planning controls, the defendants established a mobile homes site on their own land in the council's area. Applications for planning permission were refused and the council sought an injunction requiring the occupiers to leave the land. All appeals against the refusal of planning consent and against enforcement notices had been dismissed. The judge took account of the flagrant breach of planning controls and notices, the planning history of the site and the alternative accommodation available to the occupiers on official gypsy caravan sites. He held that it was proportionate to grant the order sought. For a copy of the judgment, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Recent Developments in Housing Law
J.Luba & N.Madge
(2010) October Legal Action p28

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.
To watch an independent review, 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 Month

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

26 November 2010
SHLA Fifth Annual Conference 2010
A Social Housing Law Association event 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.

Next month

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

1 December 2010
Annual Crime and ASB Conference 2010
A Northern Housing Consortium conference in York
For the details, click here.

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


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