Housing Law Bulletin - Issue 196 - 6 December 2010

Monday 6 December 2010

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The Latest Housing Law News

Central Government Housing Policy: in November 2010 the Coalition Government published the DCLG Business Plan 2011-2015. It states that an objective for the department is to meet people's housing aspirations, including by providing local authorities with strong and transparent incentives to facilitate housing growth, as well as making the provision of social housing more flexible. The Plan spells out the timetable for the announcement and implementation of policy changes designed to deliver the objective. For a copy, click here.

Housing Benefit Changes: the projected impact of the housing benefit changes is spelled-out in an Equality Impact Assessment published last month by the DWP. For a copy, click here. The detailed changes themselves are made by Housing Benefit (Amendment) regulations. For a copy, click here. Associated changes are made by a Rent Officer order dealing with HB functions. For a copy of that order, click here. For the December 2010 issue of Housing Benefit Direct, click here. For the Social Security Advisory Committee's report on the changes, click here.

Supported Housing: the DWP has published research looking into how Housing Benefit is worked out for those who live in social and voluntary sector supported housing. Benefit expenditure for many local authorities has increased substantially over recent years on supported housing exempt from private sector rent restrictions. For a copy of the research report, click here.

Housing Facts & Figures: the comprehensive 2010 Housing & Planning Statistics report has just been published. For a copy, click here. For the latest summary of Key Facts & Figures on Housing, click here. For the detail on council housing and council services relating to housing, go to the Local Authority Housing Statistics, England: 2009-10: Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) & Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA) which can all be found by clicking here. For the latest housing stock statistics for England, click here.

Street Homelessness: the cross-departmental Ministerial Working Group on preventing and tackling homelessness heard a presentation, at its most recent meeting, from Homeless Link, Crisis and the Greater London Authority on the drivers of street homelessness in London. For the Groups' terms of reference and minutes of its meetings, click here.

The Latest Housing Case Law

Kryvitska v Ukraine [2010] ECHR 1850 2 December 2010
In 1992 the applicant had been granted a tenancy of a private flat by the elderly owner who had confirmed the grant in her will made in 1993. The applicant and her family lived in the flat and continued to do so after the owner's death in 1998. In 2001 a panel of experts decided that the owner had lacked capacity in 1993. Her will was annulled and her property passed to the local council as intestate estate. It sought and obtained a possession order. The Housing Code provided that those "arbitrarily" occupying residential premises "shall be" evicted without re-housing. Accordingly, a mandatory possession order was made without considering the circumstances of the applicant. The European Court of Human Rights held that the eviction pursuant to a mandatory possession claim, in which the circumstances of the occupier had not been considered, violated the right to respect in Article 8 ECHR. It awarded each applicant 6,000 euros compensation. For the judgment, click here.

R (Razai) v Home Secretary [2010] EWHC 3151 (Admin) 2 December 2010
The claimants were held in immigration detention. They wanted to apply for bail but that was likely to be refused unless they had an accommodation address. They each applied to the Home Secretary for accommodation under section 4 of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999. If such applications were refused, they carried rights of appeal. But the Home Secretary's officials were said to have been unlawfully and unnecessarily delaying the making of the decisions in such cases with the result that detention was extended. On their claims for judicial review, the High Court conducted an extensive examination of the unpublished policy operated by the civil servants. It held that the procedure adopted was unfair because the detainees had not been told what particular features were delaying decisions on their applications for accommodation. For the judgment, click here.

Hussain v London Borough of Hounslow [2010] EW Misc 15 (CC) 1 December 2010
The applicant sought homelessness assistance on the basis that her medical condition made her vulnerable. The council decided that she did not have a priority need and that decision was upheld on review. The county court allowed an appeal. The reviewing officer had not addressed the references in the medical reports to the applicant's potential to suffer dizziness and a consequent risk of falling which had been relevant considerations in the assessment of whether she was vulnerable. For the judgment, click here.

Complaint against Newham LBC [2010] Complaint no 09 003 325 9 November 2010
The complainant was placed by Newham in temporary homelessness accommodation in Redbridge. She found a private landlord prepared to rent her a flat in the same block on a 12 month tenancy for whatever rent housing benefit would cover. Newham then gave the complainant and the landlord the wrong advice about that amount. They acted upon it but Redbridge would not grant HB for the full amount of the rent. Newham suggested the complainant abandon the tenancy to stop the shortfall accumulating. The local government Ombudsman found maladministration and recommended compensation equal to the shortfall. He said: "l do not consider that it was reasonable for the Council to expect [her] to move home when its error came to light. [She] would still be contractually liable for the rent as a result of the assured shorthold tenancy agreement she had entered into with her landlord. Neither did she want the additional upheaval that a further move would cause her and her daughter, nor the additional expense which is inevitably associated with moving house." For the investigation report, click here.

Housing Law Articles

Trouble at Mill
(commentary on the Pinnock decision)
J. Holbrook
[2010] 160 New Law Journal 3 December
To read the article, click here.

Beating a path
(commentary on the Pinnock decision)
N. Dobson
[2010] 160 New Law Journal 26 November p1638

Future battleground
(commentary on the Pinnock, Kay v UK and Tiensia decisions)
G. Peaker
[2010] 29 November Solicitors Journal
To read the article, click here.

Update: social welfare
G. Mitchell
[2010] 29 November Solicitors Journal
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 Month

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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