Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 195 - 29 November 2010

Monday 29 November 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

New arrangements on allocation, homelessness and tenancies of social housing: on 22 November 2010 the coalition government published its proposals for radical reform of social housing in the form of a consultation paper to which responses are sought by 17 January 2011. The paper covers: (1) the new Affordable Rent Housing Association Tenancy; (2) the New Flexible Council Tenancy; (3) the new-style Secure Tenancy for new Council Tenants (4) arrangements for existing tenants of Social Housing (5) changes to Social Housing Allocation (incl. transfers); (4) changes to Homelessness Law; (5) a new Statutory Duty to have a Tenancy Strategy; (6) new arrangements for cross-landlord mobility in the social housing stock; (7) tackling Empty Housing; (8) reforming Overcrowding Law; and (9) reform of Social Housing Regulation (incl. Revision of the Tenancy Standard). For a copy of the consultation paper, click here. On the same day, the government published the latest research on estimating housing need. The research, by Professor Glen Bramley et al, assesses and forecasts housing need in England, in terms of a range of housing outcomes including overcrowding, homelessness and unsuitable accommodation. For a copy of the research paper, click here.

Reviewing Homelessness Decisions: this week (on 1 December 2010) homeless persons in Northern Ireland get a statutory right to a review of adverse homelessness decisions made by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The change is made by section 5 of the Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2010. The Housing Rights Service has published A guide to challenging homelessness decisions to help advisers make best use of the new rights. To order a copy of the booklet, click here.

Help for Homeowners: in January 2009, a range of temporary measures were introduced that were intended to provide additional help to home-occupiers who were eligible to claim out-of-work benefits to avoid house repossession during the economic downturn. Last week the DWP published research that had been commissioned to discover how effective these temporary arrangements have been in meeting the policy aims. For a copy of RR 711 An evaluation of the January 2009 arrangements for Support for Mortgage Interest, click here.

Housing tribunals: new arrangements take effect this week (29 November 2010) in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). New fee levels have been introduced. For the Order making the fee changes, click here. New procedure rules also apply. For a copy of those, click here. The changes all take effect at the same time as re-designation of the First Tier and Upper Tribunal Chambers. For the regulations making the new designations, click here.

Housing and anti-social behaviour: last week the Department for Education published the latest research on monitoring and evaluation of family intervention projects. For a copy of the report, click here.

Housing and domestic violence: on 25 November 2010, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the coalition government launched a paper outlining their ambition and guiding principles to tackle violence against women and girls. For a copy of the paper, click here. The paper revealed that the government intends to pilot domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs), which enable the exclusion of alleged perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes, in Wiltshire, West Mercia and Manchester for 12 months from June 2011.

New arrangements for regulating social housing: last week the Tenant Services Authority wrote to all social housing providers to notify them that it anticipates that the main changes to social housing regulation will come into effect from 1 April 2012.Until then, the TSA will work to ensure a smooth transfer of functions and people to the new regulator but meanwhile retain and exercise its regulatory functions. For a copy of the letter, click here. The new regulator will be the Homes & Communities Agency. Last week details of its new slimmed-down structure were published. For the details, click here.

Housing for students: housing provided for students will not count as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if the landlord is a designated educational establishment. Last week a new list of such establishments took effect. For a copy of the regulations containing the list, click here. On the same day a new code of practice was approved for the management of such student housing. For the order identifying and approving the new code, click here.

Gypsies & Travellers: the latest count of Gypsy and Traveller caravan households in England was published last week. For the statistics, click here.

Council house rents: a series of new data tables on the rents paid by council tenants in England was published last week. For the figures by district and by country of the UK, click here.

Inspecting Housing Functions: the housing functions of social landlords (both local authorities and housing associations) are inspected uncder arrangements made by the Tenant services Authority with the Audit Commission. Last week the two bodies published the arrangements which will govern insoections until April 2011. For a copy of the joint statement, click here. In a speech given in Westminster on 24 November 2010 the Housing Minister announced the abolition of Strategic Housing Inspections under which the Audit Commission had been monitoring the performance of local authorities in achieving their Housing Strategies for their areas. For the full text of the speech, click here.

Easing controls on housebuilders: last week the coalition government announced that proposals for new Core Standards for builders constructing homes on developments funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) or building on land owned by the HCA, which could on average have cost developers an additional £8,000 per home, will not be implemented. The Building Regulations will be retained as the mechanism to set national minimum standards and the outcome of the recent review of the regulations will be published shortly. For the full text of the announcement, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Hanton-Rhouila v Westminster CC [2010] EWCA Civ 1334
24 November 2010

The claimant was staying with relatives. They asked her to leave by the end of April 2009. She approached the council before she became threatened with homelessness and was placed on the Home Finders Payment Scheme ('the scheme') under which the council made incentive payments to landlords to offer assured shorthold tenancies to families. At the end of April 2009 she was placed in interim housing accommodation pending a decision on her application for assistance under the homelessness provisions of Housing Act 1996 Part 7. Before a decision had been reached, she took a 12 month fixed term tenancy under the scheme with a private landlord. The council decided that she was no longer homeless and that it owed no duty. She sought a review contending that she had not understood that taking the tenancy under the scheme would prejudice her homelessness application. The review upheld the finding that she was not homeless and a judge dismissed an appeal from that decision. The Court of Appeal dismissed a second appeal. The claimant was plainly no longer homeless after she had taken the tenancy and the reviewing officer had been entitled to reject the suggestion that she had misunderstood the basis on which the private tenancy had been offered. For the judgment, click here.

Re North East Property Buyers Litigation [2010] EWHC 2991 (Ch)
19 November 2010

About 100 homeowners had sold their homes to NEPB under sale and lease back schemes. They had been paid the market price but in return for being allowed to stay in their homes had paid back considerable lump sums to NEPB. They had been granted tenancies of varying lengths and been given a variety of promises about how long they could stay in their homes. Issues then arose as to whether the mortgage lenders who had advanced NEPB the money to buy the homes were bound by the occupiers' rights to occupy. The High Court has handed down this initial judgment on preliminary points in the first of 9 test cases.

Denton-Ashley v Lambeth LBC [2010] UKUT 405 (LC)
17 November 2010

A tenant exercised his right to buy a flat on a council estate. In 2004 he paid £54,000 for a 125 year lease on the basis that the market value was £93,000. The council later decided to demolish part of the estate to make way for redevelopment. It needed to make a compulsory purchase order in respect of the tenant's flat. The parties could not agree the compensation payable. The Upper Tribunal assessed that the market value was £153,750 which the tenant would be paid in addition to a home loss payment of £15,375 and a disturbance payment of £1320. For the judgment, click here.

Hines v King Sturge LLP [2010] CSIH 86
5 November 2010

A fire occurred in a multi-storey building in Scotland. The tenants claimed that the fire had caused extensive damages because a fire alarm system that the managing agents of the building were obliged to maintain had not operated properly. The judge held that the agents did not owe a 'duty of care'. By a majority the appeal court decided that it might be possible for a duty of care to be owed and directed that the matter be tried For the judgment, click here.

Malik v Tower Hamlets LBC [2010] EWHC 2921 (Admin)
3 November 2010

The council decided that a house owed by Mr. Malik was a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and that he was liable to pay council tax for the years 2003-2009 in respect of it. That decision was upheld by a Valuation Tribunal. Mr Malik appealed to the High Court. He claimed that it had been unoccupied, save for a single man he had allowed to live in the house rent-free. The appeal was dismissed. The Tribunal had been entitled to reject Mr. Malik's evidence in the face of contrary evidence that others had occupied the house as licensees during the relevant years. For the judgment, click here.

Bilgili v Paddington Churches HA [2010] EWCA Civ 1341
2 November 2010

Tenants agreed to their landlord undertaking a window replacement programme. As part of the work, the kitchen window which had contained a spinner vent was replaced by a sealed glazed unit with no vent. The tenants later claimed damages for consequent condensation dampness and mould growth in the kitchen. The judge upheld their claim. The Court of Appeal refused the landlord's application for permission to appeal. It said "a kitchen window which is acknowledged to require ventilation and so has a spinner vent in it, has not been properly repaired if it is replaced with a sealed window that has neither a means of opening nor any form of ventilation."

Housing Law Articles

The Pinnock ripple effect
J. Plant and H. Tucker
[2010] 26 November Inside Housing p49
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.
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 Week

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.

Next year

11 February 2011
Public Sector Housing Law Conference 2011
A Jordan Publishing conference in London
For the details, click here.

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